El Faro hearings resume May 16

A second round of hearings into the El Faro disaster are scheduled to begin May 16, when a Coast Guard Marine Board of Inquiry reconvenes in Jacksonville, Fla., to learn more about the Oct. 1 sinking that took the 790’ ror/ro containership and all 33 crew.

The board is preparing for two weeks of hearing into May 27, focusing on shipboard operations; cargo loading, stowage, and lashing; vessel stability analysis; and weather forecasts and weather encountered as the vessel was beset by Hurricane Joaquin. Regulatory oversight of the El Faro will be another area of inquiry.

The board had hopes of getting evidence from the ship’s voyage data recorder, which was located this week at a depth of 15,000’ some 41 miles northeast of Crooked Island in the Bahamas. But the search team on the research vessel Atlantis reported the recovery will need more specialized deep-sea salvage capability to safely retrieve the VDR, still attached to the ship’s four-ton bridge mast.

A third round of hearings to be scheduled will hear additional testimony from former crew members and officials with operator TOTE Services, the Coast Guard said, adding that the VDR data will be examined then “if it can be recovered and analyzed.”

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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