Third Set of El Faro Hearings to Be Held in Winter

After El Faro’s voyage data recorder was retrieved from the ocean floor in early August, the United States Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation said it plans to launch a third hearing session this winter.

The Board, which is still in the fact-finding phase of its investigation, said that the next round of hearings would examine additional elements of the investigation including information retrieved from El Faro’s VDR.

“This final hearing session is anticipated to conclude the fact-finding phase of the investigation,” the board said, adding that, once this phase is completed, the MBI will shift to the analysis phase and work independently from the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) concurrent investigation.

The examination of data from the voyage data recorder started on August 15, a week after the device was brought to surface from the ocean floor.

NTSB managed to recover about 26 hours of information from the device, including bridge audio, navigational data, onboard radar images and wind data. Numerous events leading up to the loss of the US-flagged cargo ship El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 were heard on the VDR’s audio, recorded from microphones on the ship’s bridge.

Furthermore, the USCG said that the Marine Board of Investigation has completed its review of the transcripts for the first public hearing session into the loss of the the vessel held in February.

These transcripts provide a written record of the public proceedings and cover all 10 days of the first session.

World Maritime News Staff

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