Before sinking, officials flagged El Faro as at-risk vessel

The U.S. Coast Guard was ready to add TOTE Maritime’s 790’ ro/ro containership El Faro to a list of vessels exhibiting high “potential for risk” at the time the ship sank.

The designation would have set the 40-year-old vessel up for more safety inspections, Coast Guard Capt. Kyle McAvoy testified Monday at the board of inquiry hearing into the El Faro’s Oct. 1 sinking in Hurricane Joaquin.

McAvoy said that ships were typically flagged due to variety of risk factors including age, expired documents, and other problems.

The agency was preparing to release the list when the ship was lost, and released it with the El Faro’s name included — but marked as not in service — in the month before the wreck was located, McAvoy said. TOTE Maritime had not been notified of the new designation before El Faro’s final voyage, on which 33 mariners lost their lives.

Other witnesses on Monday testified to the Coast Guard’s work with private groups, including the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), to certify compliance with safety codes.

Capt. John Mauger, commander of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Center, testified that the agency has become “increasingly more reliant” on such outside groups that review some 11,000 construction and modification plans his office receives annually.

The hearing continued Tuesday.

Watch Monday’s full testimony:

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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