El Faro Sinking Was an Accident, TOTE Executive Said

As the end of the second round of hearings into the loss of El Faro and its crew approaches, the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation heard a testimony from TOTE’s executive who said that he still cannot identify any factor which could have caused the sinking, local media reported.

TOTE Executive Vice President Peter Keller testified that the loss was all about a tragic accident as there is nothing that came out of this round of hearings, or anything else, “that would talk about a cause.”

He also added that as management, they look for this as it is very important to them, however, he “cannot identify any failure that would have led to that tragic event.”

The board of investigators also heard the testimony of a former surveyor on El Faro’s lifeboats, Bruce Wagner, as he said that he completed work on the lifeboats on September 28-29, just before the US-flagged cargo ship departed on its ill-fated voyage.

Wagner added that some 7 to 10 percent of ships still use open lifeboats, which were aboard El Faro. He said that although these lifeboats were old-fashioned, they were still easily operable, adding that these lifeboats could be successfully launched from a ship with a 20-degree list.

Earlier hearings revealed that an inspection, which was undertaken aboard the 40-year-old vessel in March 2015, showed that the ship’s equipment seemed well-maintained and in working order.

A former USCG inspector Jerry McMillan said that his inspection covered several things, including cargo gear lashings, containers, life jackets and emergency suits, the deck, hall openings, hatches and watertight doors.

While deployed on its final voyage from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, El Faro sank off Crooked Island, Bahamas on October 1 when it was hit by Hurricane Joaquin.

World Maritime News Staff

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