Search for El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder Fails

The search for the voyage data recorder from the sunken cargo ship El Faro did not yield results, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in its latest update. No further search missions are planned.

“While it is disappointing that the voyage data recorder was not located, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to determine the probable cause of this tragedy and the factors that may have contributed to it,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart.

The search and video documentation efforts of El Faro were completed on November 15.

As World Maritime News informed earlier, the search teams on site revealed that the navigation bridge structure and the deck below it had separated from the ship. The missing structure included the mast and its base where the voyage data recorder was mounted. On November 11, the navigation bridge was found, but neither the mast nor the VDR was found in the vicinity of the navigation bridge structure.

After five more days of searching with CURV-21, it was determined that the VDR could not be located.

The wreck of the 790-foot ro-ro cargo ship, which went missing on October 1 during Hurricane Joaquin, was confirmed to be found on October 31 at a depth of about 15,000 feet in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position near Crooked Island, Bahamas.

The El Faro, owned by TOTE Maritime, was carrying 33 crew members onboard and was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida when it sank off the Bahamas.

The crew consisted of 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals.

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