El Faro Cargo Ship: Report: Cargo Ship Sank

Published: October 5, 2015

El Faro Cargo Ship: Report: Cargo Ship Sank, The Coast Guard on Monday determined the El Faro cargo ship sank sometime after it sent out a distress call near the eye of then-Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin nearly five days ago.

Chief Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said both the Coast Guard and the ship’s owner concluded Monday that the 790-foot container ship went down at some point after losing power in the hurricane’s high winds and heavy seas last week.

Three Coast Guard cutters, two C-130 aircraft, helicopters, commercial tugboats and a U.S. Navy plane were continuing to search across a wide expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. Capt. Mark Fedor said a heavily damaged lifeboat from the El Faro was discovered, but it had no people or signs of life. The ship had two lifeboats capable of holding 43 people each.

The owner of El Faro, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, has said the boat carried 33 people aboard, which included 28 Americans.

Fedor said it appears the vessel lost power, making it extremely vulnerable to the Category 4 hurricane’s 140-mph winds and 50-foot waves. It had 391 shipping containers aboard, weight that could make the ship top-heavy and prone to capsizing, he added.

“These are trained mariners. They know how to abandon ship. They know how to survive in the water,” Fedor said of the crew. “Those are challenging conditions to survive.”

The Coast Guard also said Monday it found the body of one crew member near where El Faro is believed to have sank off the Bahamas.

Fedor said Monday that an airborne crew spotted several survival suits floating amid debris from the ship. Most were empty but one had a body. A helicopter crew confirmed the person was dead but had to leave the body behind to continue the search for possible survivors.


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