El Faro Investigation Covered by 60 Minutes
In October 2015, Joaquin became the most deadly hurricane since Sandy. While the hurricane never brushed the U.S., it claimed the lives of 33 crewmembers of the El Faro. The tragedy of El Faro has left loved ones, family members, and experts with many unanswered questions. The search for the vessel took place in the Bermuda Triangle, shrouded in a mystery of its own—why did the ship sail into the storm and how did it sink?
More specifically, why was a 40-year-old vessel that had undergone extensive repairs in its lifespan allowed to sail directly towards one of the most serious hurricanes in recent years? The oversight involved in the El Faro case has faced serious questions that have yet to receive answers.
Insider’s Perspective on the Navy’s Search
In a segment recently done by 60 minutes, Tom Roth-Roffy commented that the El Faro search was the “most difficult and complex investigation I’ve ever worked on in my 17 years with the National Transportation Safety Board.”
With very little information to go off of, the search spanned an area of 198 square miles. A side-scan sonar was used for five days before anything was posted. Soon after, the CURV was put into the water to perform phase two of the search and survey of what was believed to be the hull.
El Faro Found Mangled & Destroyed by Storm’s Fury
The El Faro was found at a depth of 15,000 feet with steel crushed, equipment collapsed, and the top two decks missing. The bridge and lower navigation bridge deck were found about a half mile from the wreckage—the voyage data recorder was not connected any longer and remains lost along the ocean floor.
The missing voyage data recorder is a serious blow to family members and investigators seeking answers. It would have told us what the crew was experiencing at the time, just minutes before it sank. It also could have shed more light on the specific cause of the catastrophe, such as flooding, storm damage, or other issues.
The violence of the storm caused serious destruction and undoubtedly came as a shock to the 33 crewmembers on board the vessel—as well as their loved ones. The captain intended to steer 65 miles south of the storm’s estimated path, but Joaquin soon changed course and the El Faro was caught in its heavy winds and crushing waves. Even still, El Faro could have survived the storm had it kept the bow pointed directly into the waves. However, the ship’s turbine engine is believed to have failed, causing the ship to spin at an angle, take on water, and list until it succumbed to the storm.
60 Minutes Story Reveals Families Still Have Questions
Tote Maritime has been under serious pressure since the sinking of the El Faro. While some believe the blame only rests on the unpredictable nature of the sea, others who have lost loved ones claim that the major commercial shipping company should have been aware of the weather and could have planned appropriately. More than just awareness of Hurricane Joaquin, Tote Maritime was aware of the fact that El Faro was an old vessel and had numerous engine and propulsion problems in the past—an issue that is believed to have caused the ship to be caught in the storm.
Tote claims El Faro was regularly maintained and passed inspections prior to the accidents. Investigators report that they are currently looking into storm information the captain had and other information that may help families understand why he sailed the ship directly into the hurricane and what went wrong during the storm.
If you or a loved one is suffering due to the sinking of the El Faro, reach out to Arnold & Itkin. Our El Faro maritime lawyers are proud to stand with those who have lost loved ones due to Tote Maritime’s negligence.