Widow of El Faro Crewman Seeks Stronger Oversight of Ships

Posted by Eric Haun
Friday, February 19, 2016
El Faro (File photo: TOTE)
The widow of one of the 33 crew members killed when the El Faro sank in a hurricane last fall called on Friday for stricter oversight of decisions by shipping companies and their captains to sail in adverse weather.
 
Rochelle Hamm's husband, 49-year-old Frank Hamm of Baltimore, died on Oct. 1 when the El Faro went down off the Bahamas in the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than three decades.
 
The U.S. Coast Guard began hearings this week to investigate the sinking. At a press conference outside the hearing site in Jacksonville, Florida, Rochelle Hamm said U.S. lawmakers should establish third-party oversight of shipping companies similar to the role of air traffic controllers for planes.
 
Executives of Tote Services, which operated the El Faro, testified this week that ship captains have full responsibility for deciding when it is safe to sail and the route.
 
They said it was Captain Michael Davidson's call to depart Jacksonville with a storm brewing in the Atlantic, and said they did not closely monitor the El Faro's cargo run to Puerto Rico as a tropical storm strengthened into Hurricane Joaquin.
 
Hamm said in a phone interview that she came up with the idea she pitched in a Change.org petition for tighter safety regulations after northern airports closed and thousands of flights were canceled in January during a snowstorm.
 
"Nothing moved," said Hamm, 44. "You didn't see planes coming in or going out."
 
Hamm is among the family members of dead crew members who have sued Tote in federal court.
 
"We feel strongly that this company had knowledge of the oncoming storm," said Hamm's lawyer, Angelo Patacca. "If information is available, you can't just stick your head in the sand."
 
Davidson, a veteran mariner from Maine, reported the 790-foot (241-meter) El Faro lost propulsion and took on water before it sank. After the vessel was lost, the company bought a subscription for a bad-weather routing system for its ships, Tote Services' president, Philip Greene, testified this week.
 
The Coast Guard's hearings continue through next Thursday with testimony expected from other Tote employees, a ship inspection company that worked on the El Faro and Coast Guard personnel.
 
The investigation could result in civil charges. If any criminal actions are found, that evidence would be turned over to the Justice Department for consideration of criminal charges, Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Ingram said.


(Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

News

Senate Confirms Three to Serve on Federal Maritime Commission

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nominations of three individuals to serve as Federal Maritime Commissioners: Rebecca F. Dye, Michael A. Khouri and Daniel B. Maffei.

Norsafe Secures Contract with VARD Group

Norsafe informs it has signed a new contract with VARD Group, and will supply lifeboats complete with davit systems to a series of 15 new vessels.    Topaz Energy

Enclosed Space Safety Rule Enters into Force

A new regulation aimed at protecting seafarers who need to enter enclosed spaces, by requiring ships to carry portable atmosphere testing equipment on board, enters into force on July 1, 2016.

Maritime Safety

Netherlands Opts for ‘Flexible’ Container Weighing

As of July 1, shippers and freight forwarders are required to verify the weight of a container before the container is loaded onto a ship.   The Netherlands’

Norsafe Secures Contract with VARD Group

Norsafe informs it has signed a new contract with VARD Group, and will supply lifeboats complete with davit systems to a series of 15 new vessels.    Topaz Energy

Enclosed Space Safety Rule Enters into Force

A new regulation aimed at protecting seafarers who need to enter enclosed spaces, by requiring ships to carry portable atmosphere testing equipment on board, enters into force on July 1, 2016.

People in the News

Senate Confirms Three to Serve on Federal Maritime Commission

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nominations of three individuals to serve as Federal Maritime Commissioners: Rebecca F. Dye, Michael A. Khouri and Daniel B. Maffei.

NAT Takes Delivery of Suezmax, Earnings Capacity Up

Nordic American Tankers Limited ("NAT" or "the Company") announced that it today took delivery of a Suezmax vessel, the Nordic Sirius, built at a shipyard in Japan.

SOLAS Container Mass Verification Rule Enter into force

A new regulation requiring the gross mass of a container to be verified before it is loaded onto a ship enters into force today (1 July 2016). It will assist in

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1513 sec (7 req/sec)