Captain Errors Caused Sinking Of El Faro: US Coast Guard

The SS El Faro, built in 1975 and measuring 790 feet (240 meters) in length, was transporting containers and cars between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rican capital San Juan with 28 Americans and five Poles on board.

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Captain Errors Caused Sinking Of El Faro: US Coast Guard

El Faro with 28 Americans and five Poles on board sank off the coast of Bahamas in October 2015. (File)


Washington:  A US Coast Guard report published Sunday blamed the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro off the coast of the Bahamas in October 2015 on the captain underestimating the threat of a powerful hurricane.

The SS El Faro, built in 1975 and measuring 790 feet (240 meters) in length, was transporting containers and cars between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rican capital San Juan with 28 Americans and five Poles on board.

In the early hours of October 1, trapped in the 140 miles per hour (225 kilometers per hour) winds of Category Four Hurricane Joaquin, Captain Michael Davidson, 53, made contact with land to report a loss of propulsion and water entry -- but no further contact was made.

The wreckage of the El Faro was later discovered 4,500 meters under the sea in November 2015, although the black box was not recovered for analysis until April 2016.

Released on the second anniversary of the tragedy -- the most deadly maritime accident in the United States for over 30 years -- the Coast Guard's report proved damning for Davidson.

"The Master failed to recognize the magnitude of the threat presented by the flooding into the hold combined with the heavy weather conditions," the 200-page document said.

It added he "did not take appropriate action commensurate with the emergent nature of the situation onboard, including alerting the crew and making preparations for abandoning ship."

The report also said the Coast Guard's search and rescue operation was impacted by Davidson's failure to make a "final distress notification to shore to update his earlier report... that they were not abandoning ship."

It added TOTE Maritime, the owner of the vessel, did not monitor the progression of the hurricane properly -- while the lifeboats onboard would not have stood up to the extreme weather.

The report recommended a fine for TOTE Maritime, but did not suggest criminal prosecution. A family member of one of the crew has filed a claim with a Jacksonville court seeking $100 million in damages for "negligence" on the part of Davidson and the operator.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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