Stevedore Supervisor Testifies in El Faro Hearings
The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation into the loss of the El Faro continued Monday with testimony from Randy Kidd, a stevedore team lead for PORTUS and the supervisor in charge of the cargo lashings for the vessel’s final loading.
Kidd said that longshore operations on her final day in port went smoothly, and that he had a good crew on the job. “There were no issues,” he said. The work was demanding and fast paced, especially on the ro/ro cargo, but that didn't ever have an impact on quality: “there was always a sense of urgency on ro/ro, getting it done in a timely manner, but I don't think that affected how we did the job. I had good lashings, I wouldn't get off that boat if the lashings weren't good,” Kidd said.
The El Faro's officers would ask for more lashings on occasion if they saw something they'd like doubly secured; Kidd didn't discuss weather with the crew that day, and was not asked for extra lashings for weather. There were some weather lashing arrangements that "just became standard" over time, but "usually the only time they'd ask for [extra weather lashing] would be if they were going into a hurricane," Kidd said.
Kidd saw the Polish riding gang in hold five before the departure. The stevedores left several areas clear of cargo to permit them room to work while at sea. (The Board has questioned previous respondents at length about the scope of work for the riding gang.)
He described the general appearance of the El Faro and her sister ships as somewhat deteriorated. “The boats looked their age on the inside . . . they were old,” said Kidd, noting that he saw a considerable amount of rust on the overheads, decks and D-rings.