Cargo Ship Probe to Seek Answers to 2 Questions

As El Faro families still hold out hope
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2015 5:39 AM CDT
NTSB Searches for Answers in Cargo Ship Sinking
A Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew investigates a lifeboat that was found from the missing ship El Faro.   (US Coast Guard via AP)

On board the 790-foot El Faro when it set out on its doomed voyage into the path of Hurricane Joaquin were five Polish workers whose jobs were to prepare the engine room for a retrofitting. Could that work have caused the loss of power that led to the US container ship's sinking? The vessel's owners say they don't believe so, but that question—along with why the captain decided to plot a course near the storm—will almost certainly be part of an investigation launched Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board into the disaster near the Bahamas that may have claimed 33 lives. The 41-year-old El Faro was scheduled to be retired from Caribbean duty and retrofitted in the coming months for service between the West Coast and Alaska, an exec at ship owner Tote Inc. says.

The Polish workers came along with 28 US crew members to do preparatory work in the engine room, but "I don't believe based on the work they were doing that they would have had anything to do with what affected the propulsion," says the Tote exec, who's a retired Navy admiral. He says the El Faro had no history of engine failure, which Tote's CEO says was the cause of the disaster. The US Coast Guard failed to find any El Faro survivors after another day searching waters near the Bahamas Tuesday, where the ship is believed to have gone down in 15,000 feet of water, but family members say they're still holding out hope that their loved ones survived, reports the Miami Herald. The Florida Times-Union has profiles of most of the 28 missing Americans. (Read more cargo ships stories.)

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