In his final call the captain of the ill-fated cargo ship El Faro warned that “the clock is ticking” just before the ship sank due to the Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas, the US Coast Guard probe heard on Saturday.
During his last calls, the captain, Michael Davidson, asked for assistance as the TOTE Services-operated vessel sailed into the hurricane and was taking on water due to a breach in its hull, Reuters reported citing a recording of the captain’s message played during the hearing.
Before the contact with the ship was broken, the captain said that the water was entering three of the vessel’s holds.
During the first hearing, launched this week, the ship’s operator stated that the captain had full permission to change the vessel’s course. However, this issue remained unsettled as the email correspondence between the captain and TOTE ended in a question mark with the captain obviously asking for permission.
The USCG initiated a ten-day public hearing to determine the causes that led to the loss of the United States-flagged vessel and its 33 crew members.
The investigation follows US National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) announcement on its intention to launch a second expedition to search for El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR), expected to begin in April.
The US flagged ship was located on October 31 in about 15,000 feet of water in the vicinity of its last known position near Crooked Island, Bahamas.
World Maritime News Staff