By MarEx 2015-10-06 10:37:21
Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have arrived in Jacksonville, Florida as part of the ongoing investigation of the M/V El Faro, which is lost at sea after being caught in the path of Hurricane Joaquin. One crewmember is confirmed dead and U.S. Coast Guard officials are searching for the box ship’s remaining 32 crewmembers.
The El Faro departed from Jacksonville last week en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, before disappearing in what maritime experts called the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years. USCG officials have stated that they are no longer searching for the vessel after discovering a 225-square-mile debris field over the weekend. Life jackets, containers, oil sheen and a life raft were among the items spotted by USCG aircrews flying over the Bahamas.
NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr acknowledged the investigation would be difficult with the ship having sunk in an unknown location after its last known location off Crooked Island in the Bahamas.
“It’s a big challenge when there’s such a large area of water and at such depth,” Dinh-Zarr said. “We hope for the best and that the ship will be recovered.”
On Monday, the ship’s owner Tote Maritiime said the vessel was undergoing engine room work before it sank off the Bahamas.
Tote Services President Philip Greene said he did not think the engine room work was linked to a propulsion problem reported by the ship’s captain.
NTSB investigation is separate from that by the U.S. Coast Guard and will check the vessel’s maintenance records and other paperwork.
El Faro, a 735-foot box ship with 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals on board and reported losing propulsion and that it was listing and taking on water two days into its journey on October 1.
Records show that the U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a warning about the likelihood of Joaquin becoming a hurricane at 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, nearly three hours before El Faro left port.