Search team finds wreckage of El Faro

A search team has found the wreckage of TOTE Maritime‘s 790’x95’ El Faro ro/ro container ship. the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Monday. The ship, which went missing on Oct. 1, was located in approximately 15,000′ of water in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position northeast of Crooked Island in the Bahamas.

The discovery of the wreckage was made Saturday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said, when Orion, a side-scanning sonar system dispatched from the Navy tug Apache, returned images of the vessel during the fifth of 13 planned search line surveys. The images are consistent with a 790′ cargo ship.

Based on the sonar images, the NTSB said that the ship appears to be upright and in one piece. Efforts to confirm that the wreckage is El Faro began Sunday using CURV 21, a deep-ocean remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

Now that the location of El Faro is confirmed, CURV 21, outfitted with a video camera, will start the documentation of the vessel and the debris field and attempt to locate and recover the voyage data recorder. This is expected to take up to 15 days to complete in ideal conditions but could be hampered by weather and other factors.

The El Faro went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 mariners aboard. On Oct. 7, the Coast Guard and NTSB announced that they believed the ship had sunk, and would begin searching the ocean floor for the wreck. The 226’x42’x15’, 7,200-hp Apache, a Powhatan-class fleet tug, left the Navy’s Little Creek amphibious base near Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 19 to begin the underwater search.



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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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