A search team on board a U.S. Navy tug has found what they believe is the wreckage of the missing American cargo ship El Faro in the search area off the Bahamas, the NTSB said in an update late Saturday.
UPDATE (Nov 2) – El Faro Found – NTSB Confirms Wreckage is Missing Cargo Ship
The vessel was located at a depth of about 15,000 feet in the vicinity of the last known position.
The NTSB said the target identified is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship, which from sonar images appears to be in an upright position and in one piece.
The El Faro and its 33 crew members have been missing since the ship sank in Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. Its last known position was approximately 36 miles northeast off Crooked Island.
The NTSB update on Saturday said sophisticated sonar equipment towed by the contracted tug USNS Apache first detected what are believed to be images of the vessel using side-scan sonar at about 1:36 pm ET on October 31 during the fifth of 13 planned search line surveys.
SEE ALSO: Salvage Team Looking to Confirm Wreckage
To confirm the finding, specialists on Apache will use a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage, the NTSB said. The survey could begin as soon as Sunday, November 1.
If the vessel is confirmed to be the missing El Faro, the ROV will be outfitted with a video camera and will start the documentation of the vessel. This will include the debris field and attempt to locate and recover the voyage data recorder. Those operations are expected to take up to 15 days to complete in ideal conditions but could take longer depending on weather and conditions encountered during the documentation process, the NTSB said.
The USNS Apache has been on scene searching for El Faro since October 23.