Offshore InjuryBlog

Debris from Missing El Faro Ship Likely Washed Ashore in Bahamas

Reports have been coming in of debris washing ashore in the Bahamas—which many believe to belong to the recently sunken El Faro. The El Faro was a cargo ship caught in the fury of Hurricane Joaquin earlier this month. When the ship suffered engine troubles and a hull breach, it was stuck in the path of the raging storm.

Among some of the debris found was a large container fragment. Officials have investigated and found that the container number on the piece of debris can be traced back to a unit that was loaded on the cargo ship before it sunk. The information was provided by TOTE Maritime, owner of the now sunken vessel.

While the main container piece was found on San Salvador Island, debris has also shown up on Exuma Island over the last several days according to officials. The San Salvador Island Administrator reported that residents of the islands have been collecting items they believe to be loaded on the ship. Some of the other debris found include personal items and toiletries.

No Confirmation on Origin of Debris

As of now, the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board officials are not confirming whether or not the debris is actually from the El Faro. On Thursday night, the NTSB claimed that it had not received any confirmation that the debris was connected to the sunken ship. They did comment that when debris is officially connected to the El Faro, they would like to document vital materials, such as lifeboats and other equipment that could have saved crew members. There has been a Navy-led operation launched to try to locate and recover the sunken ship. 

The Sinking of the El Faro

On board the El Faro were 33 crew members. It set off from Jacksonville, Florida and was headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico. There were 28 Americans on the vessel when it went missing. While the National Hurricane Center sent out a warning just an hour after the El Faro had departed that the tropical storm Joaquin was moving closer to the Bahamas than anticipated—along the ship’s route—the vessel still encountered the hurricane.

On October 1, just two days after leaving port, the crew sent out a report saying that the ship had lost power and was listing at 15 degrees. This was the last contact received from the El Faro. It is believed that the loss of power was due to a failed engine, which had been worked on previously. Several days later it was confirmed that ship had sunken.

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