The former chief engineer of the 40-year-old cargo ship El Faro said that, although the vessel had a number of mechanical issues, it was overall safe for its journey, the WMTW reported citing US Coast Guard’s hearing findings.
The chief engineer, James Robinson, who left El Faro a couple of months before the ship sank, was questioned on preventive maintenance and practices aboard the vessel, and discussed the maintenance history of its boilers and additional pending maintenance.
Among the repairs needed were deteriorating brackets holding the steam pipes in place, leaks in superheated steam lines, and failing retaining walls in front of the boiler.
When asked about the vessel’s loss of propulsion, the former chief engineer said that it could not have been related to the vessel’s detoriating boilers, which were scheduled for maintenance at a later date, instead it would have been an issue with the ship’s turbine.
Furthermore, the panel heard the Coast Guard Capt. Todd Coggeshall, Chief of Incident Response for the El Faro sinking, who said that the coast guard’s response to the vessel’s calls for help was complicated by a lack of available resources and the storm conditions.
The nearest coast guard cutters were a couple of days away in ideal sea conditions, while the agency’s helicopters were not flying due to the Hurricane Joaquin, Coggeshall added.
Previous hearings revealed that El Faro, which sank off Crooked Island, Bahamas in a water depth of 15,000 feet, was on the USCG’s list of vessels to be watched for problems.
World Maritime News Staff