The US Coast Guard has published the SS EL FARO Marine Board of Investigation report, which includes a detailed account of the accident along with the MBI’s conclusions on contributing factors and recommendations. The loss of the US flagged cargo vessel EL FARO, along with its 33 member crew, ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in US history, and resulted in the highest death toll from a US commercial vessel sinking in almost 40 years.
The 199-page report identifies causal factors about the loss of the SS EL FARO and 33 crew members on 1 October 2015. The 790-foot vessel set sail from Jacksonville, Florida, on a voyage to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 29 September 2015 and sank about a day and a half later off the Bahamas near the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.
The report proposes a total of 31 safety recommendations and four administrative recommendations for future actions to the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Of note, the MBI recommends that the Coast Guard initiate a civil penalty against EL FARO’s operator, TOTE Services, but the MBI does not recommend any suspension or revocation action against any credentialed mariner or criminal prosecution against any person or entity. The MBI also does not recommend any administrative or punitive action against any Coast Guard personnel.
“The most important thing to remember is that 33 people lost their lives in this tragedy. If adopted, we believe the safety recommendations in our report will improve safety of life at sea” said Capt. Jason Neubauer, chairman, EL FARO Marine Board of Investigation, US Coast Guard.
Coast Guard standard procedure and 46 USC 63 requires this type of report to be done for all marine casualties under Coast Guard authority.
The investigation was conducted by the US Coast Guard with the full cooperation of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting its own investigation into the accident. NTSB investigators will meet in December to determine probable cause and vote on safety recommendations identified by their investigation.
Read the 199 page report in full: El Faro accident report