TOTE Expresses ‘Confidence’ in Crew’s Ability to Handle Hurricane Matthew

File photo shows the LNG-powered Isla Bella at the port of Jacksonville, Florida. Photo: JAXPORT Marine Unit via NASSCO
File photo shows the LNG-powered Isla Bella at the port of Jacksonville, Florida. Photo: JAXPORT Marine Unit/NASSCO

With powerful Hurricane Matthew making its way through the Caribbean and threatening to hit the U.S. from Florida to the Carolinas, Tote Maritime has issued a statement regarding its Puerto Rican fleet during the storm.

Of course Tote Maritime was the owner of the American cargo ship El Faro, which sank off the Bahamas last October after sailing into the path of Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 crew members were lost in the incident. 

Here is the statement from the company as of Tuesday:

“Our Captains have control and authority to alter course for any purpose, weather, crew illness, or to assist another ship at sea. Our crews are trained to deal with unfolding weather situations and are prepared to respond to emerging situations while at sea. In the matter of TOTE’s ships sailing ahead of Hurricane Matthew, the Coast Guard issued 3 port advisories for various Florida ports stating that all ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans to depart the port. TOTE Services has great confidence in its highly experienced officers and they are currently adjusting their sailing schedules accordingly.”

TOTE Maritime currently has two new LNG-powered container ships operating on the Puerto Rico trade from Jacksonville to San Juan., the Isla Bella and Perla Del Caribe. Both ships are part of the companies new Marlin-class, which were built to replace older Tote vessels, including the El Faro, on the Jones Act route. 

As of Wednesday morning, the Isla Bella was moored in San Juan after having arrived from Jacksonville on Monday, according to AIS data. The Perla Del Caribe however departed Jacksonville on Tuesday and is currently out at sea. The trip from Jacksonville to San Juan generally takes about 3 days. 

Perla Del Caribe’s last recorded position is below: 

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Screenshot from MaritimeTraffic.com

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (as of 11 a.m. EDT October 5): 

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An update from Tote is expected later Wednesday.