A major disappointment announced today in the investigation into the El Faro sinking with the NTSB now saying that the wreck of the ship was discovered with the navigation bridge missing and no sign of the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR).
A salvage team onboard the contracted U.S. Navy tug Apache has been using the Curve 21 remotely operated vehicle to confirm and document the wreckage initially found Saturday off the Bahamas at a depth of 15,000 feet was in fact the missing El Faro.
In documenting the wreckage and debris field, the NTSB now reports that the navigation bridge and the deck below have separated from the vessel and have not been located.
The VDR is also missing, potentially a huge setback considering the key piece of equipment may hold clues about what happened in the final moments after the ship lost contact October 1 during Hurricane Joaquin.
The NTSB says the team has also reviewed sonar scans of a nearby debris field and has not identified any targets that have a high probability of being the missing navigation bridge structure, which would have housed the VDR.
“Future plans are to redeploy the Orion side scan sonar system to generate a map of the debris field to locate the navigation bridge structure,” the NTSB said in its update.
The update added that the ROV documented both the port and starboard sides of the vessel, confirming that vessel is oriented in an upright position with the stern buried in approximately 30 feet of sediment.