El Faro’s Black Box Battery Was Not Working?

In the latest US Coast Guard hearing session on the sunken El Faro vessel it was revealed that there could have been an issue with the vessel’s Voyage Data Recorder, according to First Coast News.

The ping alert on the VDR may not have been functional even at the time of the sinking, the Global Services Manager of Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, John Fletcher, said.

He added that the condition of the battery was established during its last inspection, which was carried out in December 2014. Not knowing whether the battery was replaced since the inspection, Fletcher said that, if it was not replaced, it would have expired in May 2015.

The National Transportation Board had already conducted a number of search operations to try to locate the VDR, but all were unsuccessful. NTSB earlier said that they will again try to find the recorder in a search planned for April this year.

Another testimony during the hearing revealed that, after the initial report arrived to the US Coast Guard, the officials were convinced that the vessel was not at risk of sinking and that it was only disabled, the Sun Sentinel said.

Namely, according to the report received from the ship’s owner, TOTE Services, the officials were lead to believe that the El Faro’s crew members are working on fixing the issues that the vessel encountered. Due to inclement weather, the vessel’s hull was breached and it was taking on water. Apart from listing, the vessel also lost propulsion off Bahamas.

During the hearing, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Chancery said that El Faro’s distress was soon clear. Furthermore, he added that there were no software issues hampering the search efforts.

According to a testimony from the vessel’s former chief engineer, although the 40-year-old ship had a number of mechanical issues, it was overall safe for its journey.

The United States-flagged vessel El Faro sank on October 1, 2015 when it sailed into the Hurricane Joaquin, taking 33 crew members with it.

World Maritime News Staff

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