Families of ten victims in the tragic sinking of the El Faro have reached a settlement with the ship’s owner over the disaster.
The 10 families have agreed to $500,000 each to settle claims against the El Faro’s owner Tote Maritime Puerto Rico.
The 40-year-old American cargo sank after sailing into the path of Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 during a routine voyage from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 33 crew members, including 28 Americans and 5 Polish contractors, died in the disaster.
According to media reports, the settlement covers the families of Captain Michael Davidson, the Chief Engineer, the 1st Assistant Engineer, the Bosun, and the five Polish contractors.
Cases by families of other crew members remain open.
A statement from Tote Maritime said:
Since the loss of the El Faro, we have focused every effort on supporting the families of those on board. An important part of this support has entailed reaching fair and swift legal settlements for those who may choose them. We can confirm that we have settled financially with 10 families through a respectful and equitable mediation process. We stress that our support of all the families will continue. Out of respect for the legal process and the privacy of the families, we will not discuss the specifics of any individual legal actions.
The settlement come as the NTSB continues its investigation into the sinking. Earlier this month, the NTSB released the first images of the El Faro wreck after locating the ship in 15,000 feet of water off Crooked Island in the Bahamas near the vessel’s last known position. A survey of the wreck showed the navigation bridge had been shorn off the vessel, a testament to the extreme forces the ship was subject to when it sank.
Separately, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday that it has set the first Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the disaster. The hearing, which will be open to the public, will focus on the pre-accident events relating to the loss, the regulatory compliance record of the ship, crewmember duties and qualifications, past operations of the vessel and the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue operations.