Date Set For El Faro VDR Recovery Mission
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will launch a mission to recover the El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR) early in July.
The VDR was located on April 26 in about 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) of water near the Bahamas.
The El Faro, a U.S. flagged cargo ship, sank during Hurricane Joaquin October 1, 2015. The El Faro wreckage was positively identified on November 1, 2015.
After investigators collaborated in May with scientists and deep water recovery experts to determine how the VDR could be recovered given its proximity to nearby obstacles, the NTSB contracted with the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage to assist in the recovery effort.
The naval resources participating in the recovery effort include the USNS Apache and CURV-21, a remotely operated underwater vehicle. CURV-21 is the same equipment used to locate the El Faro wreckage in November.
Investigators from the NTSB and the U.S. Coast Guard, and engineers from the U.S. Navy and Phoenix International, the operator of CURV-21, will be on board USNS Apache when it departs in early July for the site.
The voyage is expected to take three to four days, followed by five days on scene to recover the VDR. The VDR will be brought to the NTSB laboratory where investigators will download and analyze any information it may contain.
The VDR is expected to contain 12 hours of data including audio from microphones on the bridge, Very High Frequency (VHF) radio communications, images captured from an onboard radar every 15 seconds and Automatic Identification System (AIS) traffic broadcasts data. Vessel parametric data are also recorded, including date, time, GPS position, speed and heading.
The fixed capsule is certified to 6,000 meters depth (about 20,000 feet). In the case of El Faro, the S‐VDR was mounted on the antenna mast support structure above the bridge of the vessel.