USNS Apache returns to Mayport with El Faro data recorder

Posted at 1:46 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-12 11:21:44-04

The voyage data recorder from El Faro, the US flagged cargo ship that sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin last October was recovered from the ocean floor on Monday night.

The ship went down on October 1 and the wreckage was positively identified on November 1 during a mission to find the debris. The voyage data recorder was located on April 26 in about 15,000 feet of water.

El Faro voyage data recorder in fresh water on the USNS Apache

El Faro voyage data recorder in fresh water on the USNS Apache

Military Sealift Command’s USNS Apache left Norfolk on Friday with a crew consisting of personnel from the NTSB, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and Phoenix International.

After arriving at the location of the El Faro on Monday, technicians used a remotely operated underwater vehicle (CURV-1) down 15,000 feet to the sea floor to recover the VDR capsule from the mast structure of the ship where it was attached.

The capsule was recovered to the deck of the Apache around 10:30 p.m. Monday night.

The VDR will now be examined by NTSB investigators aboard the Apache while at sea so they can properly assess the recorder’s condition and make sure it is properly preserved for further examination once they return to shore.

After the ship returns on approximately August 12, the recorder will be transported to the NTSB’s lab for further examination. The data and audio on the recorder will be reviewed, which the NTSB says will likely be a time consuming process.

NTSB officials will provide updates as investigators learn more about the condition and contents of the recorder.


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