The Coast Guard announced Monday that the El Faro, a cargo ship that left Jacksonville on September 29 for a routine trip to Puerto Rico, likely sank in the Atlantic while caught in the powerful Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin.
On board were 33 crew members.
Crews have found items from the ship, including several survival suits, a life ring and two lifeboats. One of the suits had a body in it that has yet to be identified.
The spot where they think they ship sank is 15,000-feet deep and somewhere near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. All communications were lost at 7:20 a.m. Thursday.
Following the search and rescue mission, the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard will start their investigations.
According to records obtained from the American Bureau of Shipping, the El Faro had up-to-date safety inspections. The ship was last inspected by ABS on Feb. 13. It received annual endorsements for Load Line, Cargo Ship Safety Construction, and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment. According to ABS, the El Faro had no statutory deficiencies as of its last reporting.
Tim Nolan, president of TOTE Maritime, which owns El Faro, released a statement Monday afternoon:
“At this point in time, the entire TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico family is distressed that it now appears the El Faro sank at or near its last known position on Thursday October 1, 2015. We continue to hold out hope for survivors. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family members and we will continue to do all we can to support them. The efforts and assistance from the US Coast Guard has been extraordinary and we continue to be grateful for their dedication and efforts to find surviving crew members. TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico continues to work closely with the Coast Guard in ongoing search and rescue.”
While the media and public might believe the ship is gone, Coast Guard search teams as well as families of the missing crew still have hope that they will find survivors. Hurricane weather conditions do make survival more difficult, but it is important to note that a person can survive four or five days in warm water.
Anytime a disaster at sea occurs, numerous lives are affected. With Florida being a major hub for transportation, shipping and maritime industries, it is not uncommon to hear about such tragedies. If you have lost a loved one in a shipping or boating accident, a Florida Maritime Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you through this devastating time. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to find out more about your rights in a free consultation.