The U.S. Coast Guard said that a second round of public Marine Board of Investigation hearings into the loss of the United States-flagged cargo vessel El Faro is scheduled to start on May 16.
The hearings, which will last until May 27, will focus on shipboard operations, cargo loading, lashing and stowage operations for the accident voyage while also examining the vessel’s analysis of stability and weather conditions forcasted and encountered. In addition, the regulatory oversight for the El Faro will be examined to determine and potential implications of that oversight on the accident voyage.
In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board, which is also conducting its own investigation, will take part in the hearings.
According to the US Coast Guard, the investigation will determine as closely as possible 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 other persons caused or contributed to the casualty.
The USCG further said that the third hearing will examine additional elements of the investigation including crew witnesses, TOTE company officials and contents of the El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR) if it can be recovered and analyzed.
The date for the third round of hearings is yet to be determined.
The announcement follows the discovery of the voyage data recorder (VDR) belonging to the ill-fated cargo ship El Faro in 15,000 feet of water, about 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas.
The cargo ship sank on October 1, 2015, during Hurricane Joaquin while sailing from Florida to Puerto Rico, taking all 33 crewmembers with it.