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THE STATE OF MAINE'S BOATING NEWSPAPER Volume 28 Issue 11 November 2015


US Postage Paid Permit, #65 Brunswick, ME 04011

Maine Coastal News FREE EL FARO Goes Missing in Hurricane Joaquin - 33 Lost

The 790-foot U. S. container ship EL FARO, lost during Hurricane Joaquin on 1 October claiming the lives of 33 sailors.

A shock wave was sent through the mar- itime community and many others over the loss of the 790-foot U. S. container ship EL FARO, owned by TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, with 33 crew members on board. Of the 33 crew members, fi ve had ties to Maine Maritime Academy at Castine. This is the worst disaster of a U. S. fl agged vessel in more than 30 years. When EL FARO left Jacksonville, FL on the evening of 29 September with 391 containers on board, as well as 294 automo- biles and trailers, when Joaquin was just a tropical storm. As the vessel made her way towards San Juan, Puerto Rico the winds intensifi ed to 110 mph, creating waves more than 35 feet in height, now a category 4 hurricane on the Saffi r-Simpson scale. The last transmission from the vessel came at 0720 on Thursday 1 October. The transmission stated that they had taken on water causing a 15 degree list and that they had lost power. However, they said that they were managing the problems.

On Saturday an orange life-ring was discovered northeast of Crooked Island. There was also an oil slick and other debris. Some family members gathered at the

Seafarer’s International Union hall in Jack- sonville.

The Coast Guard employed three cut- ters (CHARLES SEXTON, NORTHLAND and RESOLUTE), a MH-60 Jayhawk heli- copter, two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules

aircraft and two Air Force C-130 aircraft aided in the search. Also assisting was a U. S. Navy P-8 aircraft and three commercial tugboats. A large debris fi eld was sighted not far from the Crooked Island in the Bahamas. One unidentifi able body in a survival suit was located, but was not recovered as they were still looking for survivors. They also discovered a damaged life-boat from the vessel, but there were no people or bodies in the area. With the discovery of the body and life-boat there was still hope that the other 32 crew members were out there alive. Howev- er, search for a them was a huge challenge as they could easily be separated by a number of miles. Every time a sighting was made that possibly could be a survivor a helicopter was rushed to the position, identify what it was in the water, and if not a person, go on to the next sighting. A harsh reality is that a human being can only survive so long in these waters. The Coast Guard implements “Probability of Survival Detection Aid (PSDA). The information used to determine the length of time someone could survive includes: air and water temperature; sea state, humidity and details about the crew (age, weight, sex, clothing and gear).

After six days of an exhausting search that covered more than 183,000 square nautical miles, the search was offi cial sus- pended by the Coast Guard on Wednesday

7 October. The announcement comes after an exhaustive 6-day search for survivors covering more than 183,000 square nautical miles. The search was offi cially suspended Wednesday night at sundown. With the announcement terminating the

search TOTE issued a statement thanking the Coast Guard and all government agen- cies that assisted in the search.

When it was obvious that the ship with her entire crew and foundered, it was said an investigation would be performed by the U. S. Coast Guard and the National Transporta- tion Safety Board (NTSB). The fi rst mission was to locate the vessel and salvage the voice date recorder (VDR). This box will have the last 12 hours of engine room orders and com- munications from the bridge. The problem could be how deep she is as she could be in 15,000 feet of water. Co-operation will also come from the Coast Guard, TOTE and the American Bureau of Shipping.

NTSB will look into the decision to sail into a tropical storm that was forecast to become a hurricane, the course they took and what issues, especially related to the engine, the vessel had before she left port. Owners of the ship said that they will

fi nd out what happened to the vessels and would co-operate any way they can with the NTSB.

At this time only assumptions can be made as to the cause of the sinking. The NTSB released a preliminary report,

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but it did not offer any new information. Approximately a week later they issued another statement saying that the boilers were scheduled for maintenance work. The Coast Guard gave TOTE permission to shut down one boiler so it could inspected during a trip. After inspectors said that both boilers should be serviced and she was scheduled to be placed in a dry-dock on 6 November. There were 28 Americans and fi ve Pol- ish nationals on board the ill-fated vessel. Crew of the SS El Faro as provided by Tote Maritime via the U.S. Coast Guard: Louis Marko Champa, Refrigeration

Engineer, 51, Palm Coast, FL. Jack Edward Jackson, Able Seaman, 60, Jacksonville, FL. Theodore Earl Quammie, Steward-Baker, 66, Jacksonville, FL. Roosevelt Lazarra Clark, General Utility-Deck, Engine, 38, Jacksonville, FL. Jackie Robert Jones Jr., Able Seaman, 38, Jacksonville, FL. Danielle Laura Randolph, 2nd Mate, 34, Rockland, ME. Sylvester C. Crawford Jr., Qualifi ed Member-Engine Dept., 40, Lawrencville, GA. Lonnie S. Jordan, Assistant Stew- ard, 35, Jacksonville, FL. Jeremie Harold Riehm, 3rd Mate, 46, Camden, DE. Michael Christopher Davidson, Master, 53, Wind- ham, ME. Mitchell T Kufl ik, 3rd Assistant Engineer, 26, Brooklyn, NY. Lashawn Lam- onte Rivera, Chief Cook, 32, Jacksonville, FL. Brookie Larry Davis, Able Seaman, 63,

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