Rescue crews have stopped looking for El Faro but continue their search for survivors four days after the cargo ship ran into Hurricane Joaquin.
“We’re assuming the vessel has sunk in its last known position” in the Bahamas, US Coast Guard Chief of Response Mark Fedor said on 5 October.
Fedor said a body was found in one of the survival suits recovered from the search area but it had not been identified.
He noted that one of the vessel’s two lifeboats was discovered heavily damaged and contained no signs of life. Also found among the debris were some of the vessel’s five life rafts and material believed to have come from El Faro’s container cargo, Fedor said.
A Coast Guard official contacted by IHS Maritime on 5 October declined to say how long the search would continue or comment on the prospect of finding survivors among the 33 missing crew members.
The 224 m ship, operated by Tote Maritime, left Jacksonville, Florida, on 29 September for San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was carrying 391 containers and 294 trailers and cars.
In its last communication on 1 October, the ship’s master reported that the vessel had lost propulsion and had taken on water, but he confirmed the situation was contained and the crew was pumping it successfully. The ship had a 15° list due primarily to weather conditions but it was reported to be manageable, Tote Maritime said.