Sinking of the El Faro Subject of NTSB Meeting

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 11, 2017

File Image: The El Faro 'black box' VDR (Credit: NTSB)

File Image: The El Faro 'black box' VDR (Credit: NTSB)

The NTSB is scheduled to meet Dec. 12, 2017, to determine the probable cause of the Oct. 1, 2015, sinking of the U.S. flagged cargo ship El Faro.
The 790-foot vessel set sail from Jacksonville, Florida, on a voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 29, 2015, and sank about 34 hours later near the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.  All 33 crewmembers aboard the ship perished in the accident.
The NTSB launched an investigation as soon as the sinking was confirmed and with assistance from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, the wreckage and debris field was located Oct. 31, 2015, more than 15,000 feet under the surface of the sea.
The investigation, that to date has cost $5.6 million and amassed 30,500 hours of investigative work, has produced more than 70 findings and more than 50 proposed recommendations, which will be presented to the board during the meeting.
The major safety issues associated with​ this accident include:
  • The Captain’s actions
  • Currency of weather information
  • Bridge team management
  • Company oversight
  • Damage control plans
  • Survival craft suitability 
The sheer volume of information that needs to be reviewed during the board meeting has necessitated minor modifications to the flow of the board meeting. Unlike other board meetings where the managing director reads all the findings and recommendations following investigative staff presentations, during the El Faro board meeting the investigative staff will present their findings and recommendations during their presentations.  Probable cause will still be read by the managing director. 
The agenda (subject to change) for the board meeting is as follows:
  • Chairman’s opening remarks
  • Opening Statement
  • Accident Overview
  • Engineering Factors
  • Flooding and Damage Control
  • Damage Control Stability
  • Survival Factors
  • Board Member questions with investigative staff
  • Lunch
  • Electronic Data
  • Meteorology
  • Company Oversight and Bridge Team Management
  • Captain’s Decision Making
  • Board Member questions with investigative staff
  • Board Member deliberation on findings
  • Probable Cause
  • Board Member deliberation on probable cause
  • Board Member deliberation on safety recommendations
  • Chairman’s closing remarks 
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