Coast Guard releases final action memo regarding El Faro

Posted at 9:37 AM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 09:37:17-05

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard released Thursday the final action memo regarding the loss of the S.S. El Faro and its 33 crewmembers.

The ship went down during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015 and the wreckage was positively identified on November 1, 2015 during a mission to find the debris. The voyage data recorder was located on April 26, 2016 in about 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas.

In the final action memo, Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, approves the findings of fact, analysis, and conclusions detailed in the Marine Board of Investigation’s Report of Investigation, basically marking it as the official Coast Guard position on the cause of the marine casualty. Click here to read the memo.

The Commandant concluded that the primary cause of the casualty was the decision to navigate El Faro too close to Hurricane Joaquin’s path, along with other contributing factors.

The 40-year-old U.S.-flagged El Faro was headed to Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, and went missing near the Bahamas on October 1 with 33 people on board. The ship’s 28 American crew members and five Polish nationals are presumed dead.

The owners of El Faro said the captain had a “sound plan” to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, but the ship’s main propulsion failed, stranding the crew in the path of the Category 4 storm.

According to the NTSB, it was found in an upright position with the stern buried in about 30 feet of sediment. The bridge and the deck below, however, had separated and were not with the rest of the vessel.