• ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Effort to locate El Faro’s ‘black box’ fails

NTSB says the Navy was unable to locate ship’s mast and its base where voyage data recorder was mounted.

   The National Transportation Safety Board said it will have to try to determine why the cargo ship El Faro sank without information from the “black box,” or voyage data recorder, that was on board.
   The federal agency said Monday that while video documentation of the wreck is complete, investigators using a submersible were unable to locate the ships voyage data recorder.
   “Over the years we’ve completed many investigations without the aid of recorders and other investigative tools,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart in a statement. “While it is disappointing that the voyage data recorder was not located, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to determine the probable cause of this tragedy and the factors that may have contributed to it.”
   The 790-foot ship went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin.
   In early October, the NTSB contracted with the Navy to locate the missing ship, document the wreckage and debris field, and if possible, recover the voyage data recorder.
   On Oct. 31, sonar equipment towed from an ocean-going tug, USNS Apache, detected what was believed to be El Faro in 15,000 feet of water near its last known position along Crooked Island, Bahamas.
   The finding was confirmed Nov. 1 when investigators were able to view video of the vessel obtained from CURV-21, a remotely operated vehicle capable of deep-sea search activity.
   Video revealed the navigation bridge structure and deck below it had separated from the ship. The missing structure included the mast and its base where the voyage data recorder was mounted.
   On Nov. 11, the navigation bridge was found, but neither the mast nor the VDR was found in the vicinity of the navigation bridge structure.
   After five more days of searching with CURV-21, the search and video documentation efforts of El Faro were ended.
   NTSB said no further search missions are planned.
   Meanwhile, a Florida television station, First Coast News, said the TOTE companies, which owned and operated the ship, have made a settlement offer to the families of the 33 crew members who died when the ship sank. Some of those families have sued TOTE.
   First Coast News quoted sources as saying the company is offering lost wages to surviving families plus $500,000 each.   
   The TV station quoted Jacksonville attorney Steve Pajcic, who represents the families of two El Faro crew members, as saying “I don’t think we are at the place where attractive offers have been made.”
   Contacted by American Shipper, the law firm said it had “no comment on the settlement offer,” adding “the information regarding an offer that you saw from a previous interview actually came from the reporter.”
   “We confirm that families have been contacted regarding compensation,” a TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico spokesman told American Shipper. “We do understand that in these difficult and tragic circumstances, a number of families may have pressing financial burdens and we want to ensure that we are there to help immediately. All details of these discussions are, of course, confidential among the parties as they should be. Our efforts remain focused on providing care and support and this step is a step for those who may choose it.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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