The Latest: Federal team to study sunken cargo ship debris
Oct. 06, 2015
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The latest on a U.S.-based cargo ship that sank near the Bahamas and the search for crew members who were onboard. All times local:
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was on its way to Jacksonville on Tuesday morning to study debris from a sunken U.S.-based cargo ship, conduct interviews, and look at documents to find out what went wrong and how to prevent such incidents in the future.
NTSB Vice Chairwoman Bella Dinh-Zarr called it a tragic situation when reporters asked whether she was surprised that no survivors have been found. At a news conference at Washington's Reagan National Airport as the team prepared to fly to Jacksonville, she said, "We have survival factors as a major part of our investigation."
She says the NTSB's investigation will be separate from the Coast Guard's work and won't interfere with search-and-rescue operations.
Dinh-Zarr says the size of the debris field and depth of the water are challenging for investigators.
The El Faro container ship had more than enough lifeboats and rafts for its well-trained crew of 33 to escape the sinking vessel, but maritime experts say the winds and seas of Hurricane Joaquin likely made the task extremely difficult.
The 790-foot ship had two lifeboats capable of carrying 43 people each, five life rafts and 46 water survival suits, according to the Coast Guard and the ship's owner. It's not known if the crew could deploy them before the disabled, powerless El Faro sank near the Bahamas.
Coast Guard officials say the search was continuing overnight into Tuesday. One body was found in a survival suit, a damaged lifeboat and other debris. The El Faro disappeared Thursday as Joaquin bore down on it while en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico.