U.S. Coast Guard to Hold El Faro Investigation Hearings

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January 26, 2016

El Faro pictured laid up in Baltimore in 2010. Photo: Allen Baker

The U.S. Coast Guard is getting ready to hold its first marine investigation hearing as part of its probe into the loss of the American cargo ship El Faro and its 33 crew members.

The first session of the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearings will focus on the pre-accident historical events relating to the loss, the regulatory compliance record of the El Faro, crewmember duties and qualifications, past operations of the vessel and the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue operations, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The hearing is to take place February 16th – February 26th.

A second hearing will focus on the accident voyage, including cargo loading, weather conditions and navigation will be examined in detail. The date for the second session is still to be determined.

The Coast Guard’s investigation will seek determine as closely as possible any 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 Coast Guard says that the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting its own investigation, will fully participate in both the Marine Board of Investigation hearings.

The 40-year-old U.S.-flagged steam ship went missing near the Bahamas on October 1, 2015 after sailing into the eye of Hurricane Joaquin during a routine voyage from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The crew was last heard from early on Oct. 1st when the El Faro’s captain called the office of owner Tote Maritime to report that the ship had taken on water, was listing 15 degrees and had lost propulsion while beset in the hurricane.

RELATED: NTSB’s Preliminary Findings in El Faro Investigation

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