Saturday, 7 May 2016

El Faro

In October 2015, the 1975-built US-flag container ro/ro vessel 'El Faro' was lost in the Caribbean with all hands  - 28 American crew and 5 Polish riding engineers performing maintenance on the vessel's boilers and steam propulsion system.

A short summary of the casualty are as follows; the vessel departed on her scheduled voyage from Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico sailing ahead of a slow-moving hurricane. Losing her propulsion system and adrift, the storm overtook the vessel and she appears to have violently capsized. The vessel's wreck was found largely intact in 15,000 feet of water following a sonar survey.
El Faro's transom
An inquiry by the US NTSB has commenced, and with the discovery of the Voyage Data Recorder in a second ROV survey of the wreck the inquiry may be able to fill in crucial audio testimony of what happened on the bridge in the moments leading up to the vessels loss.
El Faro's VDR awaiting recovery
While the vessel was found largely intact on the seabed, the inquiry is focusing on the vessel's age (40 years at the time of her loss), her propulsion system (steam turbine) and life saving equipment (davit-launched open lifeboats).

Plenty has been written, blogged and opined on the relationship between the US Jones Act, the age of the US-flagged merchant fleet and the loss of 'El Faro'. The Antipodean Mariner has an opinion but will refrain from mounting his high horse until the final inquiry is concluded and published.

Tradewinds, a Norwegian maritime publication (probably the best news source in the shipping industry) has commissioned a Podcast series by Eric Martin, their US Bureau Chief. If you can't afford the US$2,035 annual subscription, the podcast 'The Sunken Lighthouse' is available on Soundcloud. At the time of posting, the first two episodes are available.

The podcasts provide a factual and balanced summary from maritime professionals, and are an excellent analysis.

I'll be following the inquiry and will repost anything that interests me.

The Antipodean Mariner

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