Coast Guard sets hearing into El Faro loss

The U.S. Coast Guard will hold a public Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the loss of the El Faro beginning Feb. 16 in Jacksonville, Fla.

TOTE Maritime’s 790’x95’ ro/ro container ship El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1 with 33 mariners aboard.

The Coast Guard investigation hearing is set to run through Feb. 26, with daily proceedings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville.

The first hearing session on Feb. 16 will focus on the pre-accident historical events relating to the loss, the regulatory compliance record of the El Faro, crewmember duties and qualifications, past operations of the vessel, and the Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue operations.

During a later session (date to be determined), the accident voyage, including cargo loading, weather conditions and navigation, will be examined in detail.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted its own investigation, will fully participate in the hearings, the Coast Guard said.

The investigation aims to determine the factors contributing to the accident, whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; and whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.

The Coast Guard led the search-and-rescue operation in the days immediately following the El Faro’s disappearance in October. The search for survivors ended on Oct. 7 as investigators began preparing to search for the ship’s wreckage, the first part of which was discovered on Oct. 31.

View more information from the Coast Guard on the El Faro Marine Board of Investigation hearing.


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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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