NTSB Opening El Faro Docket Dec. 13

The U.S.-flagged cargo ship sank in October 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin, with the loss of all 33 crew members on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board is opening the docket and also holding a media briefing Dec. 13 on its investigation of the sinking of the El Faro, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship that sank in October 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin, with the loss of all 33 crew members on board. The agency recovered the ship's voyage data recorder on Aug. 8, 2016, and successfully recovered 26 hours of information from it a week later.

That information included bridge audio, navigational data, onboard radar images, and wind data. NTSB reported this in August 2016: "The recording began about 5:37 a.m., Sept. 30, 2015 – about 8 hours after the El Faro departed Jacksonville, Florida, with the ship about 150 nautical miles southeast of the city. The bridge audio from the morning of Oct. 1, captured the master and crew discussing their actions regarding flooding and the vessel's list. The vessel's loss of propulsion was mentioned on the bridge audio about 6:13 a.m. Also captured was the master speaking on the telephone, notifying shoreside personnel of the vessel’s critical situation. He also informed them he was going to send out an emergency distress signal. The master sounded the abandon ship alarm about 7:30 a.m., Oct. 1, 2015. The recording ended about 10 minutes later when the El Faro was about 39 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Island, Bahamas. These times are preliminary and subject to change and final validation by the voyage data recorder group."

The docket will contain only factual information about weather, engineering, survival factors, and data from the voyage data recorder, along with a transcript from the recorder's audio recording. The media briefing about the contents of the docket will begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, with NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart, NTSB Office of Marine Safety Director Brian Curtis, and NTSB Office of Research and Engineering Director James Ritter scheduled to participate in it.

The agency plans to webcast the briefing. A link to the webcast will be available at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/ shortly before the start of the press briefing.

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