The National Transportation Safety Board has released a video which shows the final resting place of the El Faro, the cargo ship that sank during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. The video shows the doomed ship resting on the sea floor amid mangled metal and debris, ABC News reports.
The El Faro is believed to have sunk on October 1, 2015 during the height of Hurricane Joaquin. The 790-foot cargo ship sank with all 33 crew members on board off the coast of The Bahamas. Following the disappearance of the ship, a search and rescue operation was carried out for six days, during which rescue personnel were unable to locate the ship. The search was eventually called off due to “horrific” weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. After the poor weather subsided, another operation was launched — this time, to locate the wreckage of the El Faro — as it had become evident that the large ship had definitely sunk.
Hours before the El Faro sank, the ship’s captain Michael Davidson had called in to declare the ship had lost its engine power and that the vessel was taking on water. The El Faro was on its way from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Hurricane Joaquin, which was a small storm system when the ship set sail, had transformed into a Category 4 hurricane by the time the El Faro was in the high seas. Rescuers only managed to locate one body and floating debris from the cargo during the rescue operations.
A month after the El Faro sank, the wreckage of the ship was eventually found near Crooked Island, Bahamas using the help of a remote controlled submersible. This submersible tracked several thousand square miles of the ocean floor and used echolocation to track down large objects on the ocean floor. When they eventually found the ship, the El Faro was found to be resting nearly three miles below the ocean’s surface, which translates to a depth of more than 15,000 feet. Just to put things in perspective, the wreckage of the Titanic was found at a depth of over 12,000 feet. The hull of the El Faro was also found, buried in 30 feet of sediment. They also found that the ship was in an upright position and relatively intact.
The El Faro disaster is the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history in 35 years. Initial investigations revealed that the El Faro had lost power and a failure in is propulsion system caused the ship to sink. Soon after the disaster and the eventual finding of the wreckage, it became evident that the navigation bridge of the El Faro was destroyed by the storm and was shorn off the ship. A section of the bridge was found half a mile away from the hull. Investigators believe that most of the crew on board the vessel might have been inside the bridge when the disaster happened. The exact sequence of events that led to the El Faro sinking still remain a mystery.
One thing that could shed more light on how and why the disaster happened would be the voyage data recorder (VDR) of the ship. The VDR is similar to the black box of an airplane and is used to record data pertaining to the condition of the vessel just before it sank. The voice data recorder of the El Faro has not been recovered to date. However, investigators are hopeful that they may be able to piece together the evidence they have collected thus far to determine the probable cause of the tragedy.
[Image via AP Photo/Steven Senne]