Offshore InjuryBlog

El Faro Site Photos Shared with Crew Members’ Families

On December 16th, approximately two and a half months after the tragic sinking of the El Faro, crew members’ families were finally provided with footage and photos of the wreckage. The photography was taken by the Navy vessel Apache, the home base of the investigative efforts for the case. One family invited the media to join them and make the photos public.

The photos of the wreckage included a view of the bridge, which was separated from the hull of the ship by around 2,600 feet or so. Hauntingly, some of the original shipping containers on board at the time remained on the deck of the ship. About 4 of the original 400 shipping containers remained on deck, a natural memorial for the ship's final voyage.

The ability to see the wreckage firsthand will hopefully provide some of the crew’s families with closure. While the investigation is ongoing, the 33 crew members have been missing at sea for months and are presumed dead. The Navy was initially looking for the Voyage Data Recorder in the wreckage, a piece of computer equipment that would have provided definitive answers about the final hours of the El Faro’s voyage. It would include details like audio feeds with timestamps.

No Definitive Answers Yet

Unfortunately, the VDR could not be located. However, the Navy continues to look for answers and piece together why the El Faro steered into Hurricane Joaquin, and why it did not survive the storm. While there are no clear answers yet, TOTE Maritime—the owners of the ship—has a history of prioritizing profit over safety and maintenance.

The El Faro was actually undergoing major repairs and overhauls during its voyage, and had a history of sudden engine failure. Just last month, another one of TOTE’s ships experienced total engine failure for hours off the coast of Canada. If the same happened to the El Faro while caught in a hurricane, it would have contributed to the tragedy that followed.

To see the photos provided by the Apache, follow this link.

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