Offshore InjuryBlog

El Faro Replacement May Sail Into Hurricane Matthew

In a troubling news story, NBC is reporting that the Isla Bella, the El Faro’s replacement, may sail into Hurricane Matthew and face waves up to 20 feet tall. TOTE Maritime spoke with NBC, citing that it will be the captain’s responsibility to decide whether the ship remains in port at Puerto Rico or makes the three-day journey to Jacksonville.

The company’s official statement said the following:

Our Captains have control and authority to alter course for any purpose, weather, crew illness, or to assist another ship at sea. Our crews are trained to deal with unfolding weather situations and are prepared to respond to emerging situations while at sea.

TOTE also noted that Coast Guard officials recommended large commercial vessels to leave Florida ports.

One Year Later & No Lessons Learned

However, our attorneys believe that the company should be exercising every precaution instead of leaving the decision-making entirely to their captains. NBC took the following statement from our own Jason Itkin:

When families come to us for justice, it often means they want to make sure the tragedy that took their loved one doesn't happen to someone else. If Tote is sending more mariners into the path of a hurricane on the anniversary of the El Faro disaster, it's clear Tote has not learned its lesson yet.

It’s been a year and 3 days since the El Faro sailed into Hurricane Joaquin, began flooding, and lost all 33 of her crew. Barely a year, and similar conditions have failed to elicit a more cautious response from TOTE. In fact, the El Faro left port when Joaquin was only a tropical storm—it later became a Category 4.

As it stands, Hurricane Matthew is already a Category 4. By the second day of its scheduled journey, the Isla Bella could be facing 20-foot waves. By Friday, it could be hitting massive 50-foot waves. These are not conditions to take lightly.

For more information about this story, visit the NBC site today.

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