Offshore InjuryBlog

Salvage Operation Launched for El Faro by the U.S. Navy

The USNS Apache of the U.S. Navy departed today on a salvage mission to find the El Faro. The cargo ship carrying 28 Americans was reported missing on October 1 after it lost power on its route from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The vessel reportedly sunk somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean after getting hit by Hurricane Joaquin.

Investigators will be involved in the operation, fitted with the equipment needed to locate the large cargo ship. El Faro is believed to have sunk around Crooked Island, which is in the southeastern Bahamas. The purpose of the mission is to find the ship and retrieve the data recorder, which may provide more information to investigators.

Apache Embarks from Virginia

The Apache left today from the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to head towards the search site. The journey is expected to take around two days to complete. The search area is rather expansive, stretching to 100 square miles and 15,000 feet deep. The USNS Apache will be fitted with a towed pinger, which is designed to help locate the ship’s data recorder. A side scan sonar, remotely operated vehicle, and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the American Bureau of Shipping will also be part of the Navy's salvage operation.

The Sinking of El Faro: Cracks, Leaks & Damaged Engines

The El Faro was a 790-foot cargo ship. Former crew members of the El Faro had allegedly complained of leaks and cracks on the 40-year-old vessel, however, engine failure is said to be at fault for the accident.

The captain reportedly encountered a mechanical problem with the main propulsion system, leaving the vessel and its crew at the mercies of Hurricane Joaquin. Officials with Tote Services Inc., owner of the ship, are not sure when the engine problem exactly developed or the cause of the problem. Regardless, the issue left the El Faro right in the path of the storm.

One of the two lifeboats from the El Faro was found with no crew members on board. An oil sheen, life raft, and cargo container were also spotted. While the ship was fitted with five rafts and two lifeboats, no survivors have been found.

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