Coast Guard Sets El Faro Hearing Date
The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a public Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the loss of the United States-flagged steam ship El Faro and its 33 crewmembers starting on February 16.
The first hearing session 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 hearing session, on a date yet to be confirmed, 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 participate in the Marine Board of Investigation hearings.
The Coast Guard conducts marine casualty investigations to document casualties, uncover their causes, and initiate necessary corrective actions. Coast Guard marine casualty investigations range from the informal collection and tracking of information for minor accidents to formal hearings for accidents involving significant property damage, serious injury, or death. On average, the Coast Guard conducts 5,400 marine casualty investigations per year.
The Commandant of the Coast Guard will convene a Marine Board of Investigation for the most serious accidents or those with considerable national significance. The Commandant last convened a Marine Board of Investigation in response to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and loss of 11 crewmembers in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
The El Faro, which went down during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, was bound for Puerto Rico at the time of the accident. All 28 American and five Polish nationals on board are presumed dead.
El Faro Casualty Facts provided by the Coast Guard
790-foot roll on-roll off container ship, U.S. Flagged, U.S. built in 1975
33 people on board
Eight U.S. citizens
Five Polish nationals
Departed Jacksonville, Florida on 29 September
391 containers above deck
294 containers below deck, most of which contained cars and trailers
Last contact from the vessel was the 0730 INMARSAT October 1
Life ring confirmed to be from El Faro found 70 miles North East of last known position
Two other life rings found; unable to be recovered
One container found; unconfirmed from El Faro
Objects have been found in the water (shipping container, life jacket, life ring)
Reported oil sheen in the search area
Found one deceased person floating in an immersion suit in the debris field October 4; unable to recover, unknown identity.
Located capsized lifeboat; confirmed to be from El Faro October 4