El Faro’s Captain Planned to Avoid Storm, Hearings Reveal

The U.S. Coast Guard continued the investigation into last year’s sinking of the United States-flagged cargo vessel El Faro with a second round of public Marine Board of Investigation hearings on Monday.

During the first day of the hearings, the board listened to the testimony of Captain Eric Bryson, who helped launch the El Faro on its final voyage, as he testified that the ship’s captain had said he planned to avoid the storm in the Caribbean, Reuters reports.

Other witnesses, Captain James Fudaker, a docking pilot who also worked with the ship before it departed for Puerto Rico, said that he was not aware of any equipment deficiencies aboard the vessel, while a former master of the ship, Captain Eric Axelsson, said that he did not consider the vessel vulnerable.

Scheduled to last until May 27, the hearings 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.

The hearings were launched after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) located the voyage data recorder (VDR) which belonged to the ill-fated cargo ship on April 26.

The VDR was found in 15,000 feet of water some 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas.

The USCG recently said that it plans to launch a third round of hearings, however the exact date of the hearings is yet to be determined.

The cargo ship sank on October 1, 2015, during Hurricane Joaquin while sailing from Florida to Puerto Rico, taking all 33 crewmembers with it.

World Maritime News Staff

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