Final hearing for El Faro sinking set for February 6th

The third and final Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the sinking of the El Faro will take place on 6 February, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida, the US Coast Guard (USCG) announced on Friday.

The El Faro cargo ship sank on October 1st 2015 when it encountered Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas while en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 33 crew perished.

The wreckage was found on the ocean floor a month later and the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) was located five months after that. The VDR was not recovered until August 2016.

The final round of hearings will be the first since the analysis of the audio and data from the VDR, the transcripts of which were released in December 2016. The two previous two-week sessions were also in Jacksonville, in February and in May 2016. This hearing will also consider crew witnesses, officials of ship owner Tote and USCG officials.

The first hearing examined the ship’s history of pre-accident events, crew members’ duties and qualifications, and the USCG’s search and rescue effort.

The second hearing looked at shipboard operations, cargo loading, the vessel’s stability, weather forecasted and weather encountered.