EL Faro

Coast Guard’s Third and Final ‘El Faro’ Hearing Set for February

Mike Schuler
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January 30, 2017

SS El Faro. Photo: Tote Maritim

The third and final Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the loss of the American cargo ship El Faro has been scheduled for next month in Jacksonville, Florida.

The hearing will take place on February 6, 2015, at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center. It will examine additional elements of the investigation including crew witnesses, TOTE company officials, Coast Guard officials and contents of El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder, including the transcript of bridge audio recordings which was by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in December.

The NTSB, which is conducting its own concurrent investigation, will fully participate in the Marine Board of Investigation hearings.

The El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquine on October 1, 2015 near Crooked Island, Bahamas with the loss of all 33 crewmembers.

The Coast Guard investigation will determine as closely as possible the factors that contributed to the accident; whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; and whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.

The NTSB released the bridge audio transcript on December 13, 2016, after recovering the El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder from a depth of 15,000 feet. The VDR recording included 26 hours of audio from the ship’s final voyage, including multiple conversations regarding weather and route planning in the day leading up to the sinking.

The hearing is scheduled to include 10 days of testimony.

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