SIU creates fund for family of seafarers of El Faro

OCTOBER 12, 2015—The Seafarers International Union (SIU) has launched a voluntary fund to help the dependents of the seafarers who perished in the sinking of the U.S.-flag containership El Faro.  SIU Secretary-Treasurer

Navy to begin search for El Faro in coming weeks

OCTOBER 9, 2015—Over the next several weeks, the U.S. Navy will begin searching for the 790 ft containership El Faro, which is believed to have sunk near the Crooked Islands in the

The Coast Guard to suspend search for survivors

OCTOBER 7, 2015—The U.S. Coast Guard has told family members of the crew of the lost cargo ship El Faro that it will suspend the search for survivors at 7 PM ET.

NTSB launches go team to investigate El Faro loss

Yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the vessel, which was en route from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was lost in last week’s storm. The Coast Guard will participate in the NTSB’s investigation.

The team will be led by the NTSB’s Tom Roth-Roffy as investigator-in-charge. NTSB Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr is accompanying the team and will serve as the principal spokesperson during the on-scene phase of the investigation.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D. FL.) said that, as a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, she will be asking for “a complete investigation into this tragic incident.”

The Coast Guard said yesterday that search and rescue crews continued searching for possible survivors from the cargo ship El Faro Monday night, covering a total search area of more than 160,574 square nautical miles.While searching in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands, Bahamas, the Coast Guard located a deceased person in a survival suit in the water.

A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro was also located Sunday. Additional items located by Coast Guard aircrews within a 225 square nautical mile search area include a partially submerged life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen Sunday.Coast Guard assets involved in Monday’s search include:

Sea and weather conditions during Monday’s search include one-foot seas and 15 knots winds with unrestricted visibility.All three Coast Guard cutters remained on scene to search through the night.

Coast Guard believes El Faro sank, searches for survivors

Coast Guard spokesman CAPT Mark Fedor said during a press conference in Miami this morning that one body was found in a survival suit in a 225-square mile debris field near the Bahamas. The body was “unidentifiable” and was not recovered. CAPT Fedor said the Coast Guard also recovered one of the ship’s two lifeboats with no one on board. He said that the Coast Guard was still hopeful of finding survivors among the 33 crew on board. Despite the difficult conditions of being subjected to 140 mph winds and 50-foot waves, “I’m not going to discount someone’s will to survive,” says Fedor.

According to Fedor, there were 46 survival suits on board and each lifeboat is certified to carry 43. “These are trained mariners and they know how to abandon ship.”

The search for survivors will continue with aircraft and commercial ships in the area.

The Coast Guard said Sunday evening that the search teams, which also include personnel and resources from U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy, have covered more than 70,000 square miles.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, with involvement from the U.S. Coast Guard, is expected to conduct a full investigation. Fedor says the Coast Guard is also expected to conduct its own investigation.

The El Faro, owned by Tote Maritime, was built in 1974 and updated in 1992 and 2006. It was carrying 391 containers and 294 trailers and cars.



Update: Coast Guard finds life ring from El Faro

The El Faro, a 790-foot roll on, roll off, cargo ship, departed Jacksonville, Florida, Sept. 29, en route to San Juan.

At about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center in Portsmouth, VA, received an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion, and had a 15-degree list. The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.

No further communications have been received from the vessel

A Coast Guard HC-130 search and rescue crew from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, spotted the life ring 120 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Island, Bahamas. A Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter crew recovered the life ring and confirmed it belonged to the missing ship.

Search and rescue crews have searched more than 30,000 square-miles since Thursday.

Sea conditions in the search area yesterday were reported to be 20 to 40-feet with winds in excess to 100 knots. Visibility for search and rescue flying between 500 and 1,000 feet was reported to be less than one nautical mile at times.

Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, issued the following statement regarding ongoing efforts to locate and communicate with the El Faro and her crew:

“This morning TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s second ship, the El Yunque, and a contracted tugboat reached the area between the last known vicinity of the El Faro and the location that the Coast Guard recovered a life ring yesterday and carried out a visual survey.

“The two vessels discovered a container, which appears to be from the El Faro, and observed what appears to be an oil sheen.

“At this time there has been no sighting of the El Faro or any life boats.

“TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico and the Coast Guard remain focused on the continuing  search for the crew.  The contracted tugs as well as other vessels transiting the area are also keeping a lookout for any sign of the ship.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the 33 individuals aboard the ship and their families.  They are our number one priority.”

A Coast Guard pilot searching for the missing containership, near the eye of hurricane Joaquin, recounts the weather conditions Oct. 3, 2015. The Coast Guard has been searching since Oct. 1, after losing communications with the El Faro.

U.S. Coast Guard video

USCG searches for TOTE ship caught by Hurricane Joaquin


The El Faro, a 735-foot TOTE Maritime RO/RO cargo ship, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, FL. At about 7:30 a.m. Thursday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center in Portsmouth, VA, received an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion, and had a 15-degree list.

The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 7th District command center in Miami launched an HC-130 aircrew out of Clearwater, FL, to search for the El Faro.

As of this afternoon, Coast Guard watchstanders and rescue crews had still been been unable to reestablish communications with the El Faro crew.

Two Air Force C-130 Hurricane Hunter aircrews attempted to locate and reestablish communications with the El Faro unsuccessfully Thursday. Coast Guard crews remained on scene and continue search efforts today by both air and sea.

At a press conference today Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said the Coast Guard was pushing its assets to their operational limits in the search for the vessel and the 33 people on board.

Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico issued the following statement on the incident:

On September 29, the El Faro, one of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s two ships departed Jacksonville en-route to San Juan Puerto Rico.

At the time of the El Faro’s departure, the vessel’s officers and crew were monitoring what was then Tropical Storm Joaquin. As of 720am EST on Thursday October 1, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico lost all communication with the El Faro. The US Coast Guard was immediately notified and since then we have been unable to reestablish communication.

There are a number of possible reasons for the loss of communications among them the increasing severity of Hurricane Joaquin.

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s primary concern is for the safety and well-being of the 33 individuals on board.

We are working to ensure clear and frequent communications with their families and loved ones as we learn more.We have reached out to the families of those impacted and have established open lines of communication to provide them with timely updates. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families.

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico is working closely with the US Coast Guard and all available resources to establish communication by whatever means possible.