The U.S. Coast Guard revealed its plans to conduct a public Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the loss of the United States-flagged steam ship El Faro, and its 33 crewmembers.
The first hearing session, scheduled to take place from February 16th to February 26th, 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 the accident voyage, including cargo loading, weather conditions and navigation will be examined in detail, the Coast Guard said.
In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted its own investigation, will also participate in the hearings.
According to the Coast Guard, the investigation aims to determine the factors that contributed to the accident; whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; and whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.
The announcement comes on the heels of a settlement reached between TOTE Maritime and some of the ship’s crew members’ families. Namely, ten families of the El Faro victims reached a settlement with the operator of the ill-fated cargo ship TOTE Maritime. Under the deal, the families will receive USD 500,000 each, as well as an undisclosed amount for lost wages and other losses.
El Faro sank on October 1, 2015, after it sailed into the Hurricane Joaquin. The vessel’s 33 crew members, who consisted of 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals, are presumed dead.