El Faro Was Undergoing Engine Room Work
On Monday, October 5, the owner of El Faro, the ship that was lost during Hurricane Joaquin, announced that the vessel had been undergoing engine room work that was previously undisclosed. At a press conference, offices from Tote Inc., the ship owner, stated that an unspecified engine room had been receiving work from a repair crew as part of conversion work before being moved. The President of Tote Inc. stated that they do not have reason to believe the work was tied to the ship’s problem with propulsion.
The Navy Prepares for Underwater Search Efforts
The vessel had been carrying 33 people when it went missing—28 of whom were American citizens. After covering more than 172,000 square nautical miles, the search performed by the U.S. Coast Guard ended on October 7. They were only able to recover one body.
"Several 'survival suits' were spotted floating in the water, one of which contained the body. In addition, an empty, heavily damaged lifeboat was found," said a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.
At the National Transportation Safety Board’s request, the Navy is now working to put together a ship and underwater search team to find the ship. The fleet tug USNS Apache is schedule to leave next week from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, VA to search the area most commonly referred to as the Bermuda Triangle.
“The initial search area is 100 square miles, and we estimate water depth to be 15,000 feet across the expected search area,” said a Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman. “We estimate we will remain in the area until mid-November.” The ship will be fully equipped with all necessary underwater search equipment.