The United States Naval Ship (USNS) Apache has concluded the first phase of the pinger locator search for the cargo ship El Faro on October 26, 2015 and was unable to detect any signs of the sunken vessel.
” The TPL’s ability to detect the El Faro’s pinger may be effected by the orientation of the vessel as it lays on the sea floor or the current condition and functionality of the El Faro’s pinger,” the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said in an update.
USNS Apache arrived at the last known position of the El Faro on October 23rd, and began searching for the vessel with a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL). The search area consists of a 10 nautical mile by 15 nautical mile area, in which the USNS Apache towed the TPL on 5 search lines across the search area in order to detect the acoustic signal associated with the El Faro’s pinger.
On October 27, 2015, the second phase of the search commenced using the Orion side-scan sonar system.
As informed by NTSB, the second phase of the search will be conducted over the same search area. This phase will consist of 13 search tracks and will take approximately 14 days to complete. The side scan sonar system will be used to locate the El Faro, and if found, create an image of the vessel.
The El Faro, owned by Sea Star Line and operated by TOTE Services, went missing off the Bahamas on October 1 near the eye of the Hurricane Joaquin, and is presumed to have sunk.
The Coast Guard located one deceased person in a survival suit in the water on October 3rd. The remaining 32 crew members, including the ship’s captain, are missing and presumed dead.