news

The Latest: Coast Guard: Ship captain 'misjudged' hurricane

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Coast Guard findings about 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

In releasing the Coast Guard's report on the sinking of the El Faro, Capt. Jason Neubauer says the Coast Guard would have sought to revoke the license of the cargo ship's captain if he had survived.

Neubauer said at a news conference Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida, that El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson "was ultimately responsible for the vessel, the crew and its safe navigation."

Neubauer, who chaired the Coast Guard investigation, says Davidson "misjudged the path of Hurricane Joaquin and overestimated the vessel's heavy weather survivability while also failing to take adequate precautions to monitor and prepare for heavy weather."

Says Nuebauer of the capitain: "he failed to understand the severity of the situation" even when told the hurricane was intensifying.

The Coast Guard report also named other factors in the disaster.

Neubauer says the ship's owner, TOTE Maritime Inc., had not replaced a safety officer, spreading out those duties among other managers, and had violated regulations regarding crew rest periods and working hours. The Coast Guard says it will seek civil actions against TOTE but no criminal penalties as there was no criminal intent.

___

11 a.m.

TOTE Maritime Inc., which owned the ill-fated cargo ship El Faro, has released a statement saying the Coast Guard report "is another piece of this sacred obligation that everyone who works upon the sea must study and embrace."

The statement made public Sunday added that "The report details industry practices which need change."

The El Faro went down on Oct. 1, 2015, sinking in 15,000 feet (4,570 meters) of water near the Bahamas amid Hurricane Joaquin. No bodies were ever recovered. It was the worst maritime disaster for a U.S.-flagged vessel since 1983.

Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stressed crew fighting to save the ship after it lost propulsion as they battled wind, shifting cargo and waves.

___

10:40 a.m.

The Coast Guard says the primary cause of the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, which killed all 33 aboard, was the captain misreading both the strength of a hurricane and his overestimation of the ship's strength.

The Coast Guard report made public at a news conference Sunday makes recommendations stemming from the Oct. 1, 2015, sinking of the 790-foot (240-meter) vessel, which went down near the Bahamas when Capt. Michael Davidson tried to cut through Hurricane Joaquin. The Jacksonville, Florida-based ship was headed to Puerto Rico.

Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stressed crew fighting to save the ship after it lost propulsion as they battled wind, shifting cargo and waves.

Davidson ordered the ship abandoned shortly before it sank.

___

7 a.m.

The Coast Guard is scheduled to release its final report on the sinking of a cargo ship two years ago that killed all 33 aboard.

The report released Sunday will make recommendations stemming from the Oct. 1, 2015, sinking of the El Faro, a 790-foot (240-meter) vessel that went down near the Bahamas when its captain tried to cut through Hurricane Joaquin. The Jacksonville, Florida-based ship was headed to Puerto Rico.

Investigators have not released a probable cause or contributing factors in the sinking.

Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stressed crew fighting to save the ship after it lost propulsion as they battled wind, shifting cargo and waves.

Capt. Michael Davidson ordered the ship abandoned shortly before it sank.

5 Reactions

What to read next