Monday, October 05, 2015

El Faro Dead Crewmember, Life Boat Found Near Bahamas

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews continue searching for possible survivors from the huge cargo ship El Faro Monday, which is believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 crew aboard. A heavily damaged life boat has been recovered and a deceased person found.

(Video: U.S. Coast Guard Ship investigates El Faro life boat)

A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro was located, said officials from the Coast Guard. Additional items located include a partially submerged life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen were located by Coast Guard aircrews within a 225 square nautical mile search area.

While searching in the vicinity of the ship's last known position 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands, Bahamas, the Coast Guard located a deceased person in a survival suit in the water.

The 737 foot U.S. flagged ship was bound from Jacksonville, Fl. to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and last heard from on October 1 at 7:30 a.m. from an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list.

The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained. Hurricane Joaquin ravaged the Caribbean with high winds and seas after rapidly gaining strength from a Tropical storm. Aboard were 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals.

Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico issued the following statement regarding ongoing efforts to locate and communicate with the El Faro and her crew.

“At this point in time, the entire TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico family is distressed that it now appears the El Faro sank at or near its last known position on Thursday October 1, 2015. We continue to hold out hope for survivors. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family members and we will continue to do all we can to support them," Nolan said.

The blue hulled El Faro with white superstructure was built in 1975 and previously named the Northern Lights when it was acquired by owner Tote Maritime, Inc, of Jacksonville.

In 2003 Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom brought with it a request from the United States Military Sealift Command to charter the S.S. Northern Lights to ship Marine Corps rolling stock, assist with the return of war equipment to the United States, and carry materials for rebuilding Iraq according to Tote promotional materials.

The El Faro was reported as carrying hazardous cargo. An automatic position reporting radio transmission was received at 4 a.m. showing it's position east of Cat Island in the Bahamas moving at 19 knots traveling in a southeastern direction.

Multiple Coast Guard crews continue to search for survivors from the El Faro. Assets involved in the search include:

Two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida
Two Navy P-8 fixed wing airplanes
One Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida
Coast Guard Cutter Northland, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia
Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida
Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton, a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Key West, Florida.
Three commercial tugboats

UPDATE October 7, 2015: As the Coast Guard announces it's closing of rescue activities the ship crew list was provided.
Crew of the SS El Faro as provided by TOTE Maritime:
Louis ChampaPalm Coast, Florida
Roosevelt ClarkJacksonville, Florida
Sylvester Crawford Jr.Lawrenceville, Georgia
Michael DavidsonWindham, Maine
Brookie DavisJacksonville, Florida
Keith GriffinFort Myers, Florida
Frank HammJacksonville, Florida
Joe HargroveOrange Park, Florida
Carey HatchJacksonville, Florida
Michael HollandNorth Wilton, Maine
Jack JacksonJacksonville, Florida
Jackie Jones, Jr.Jacksonville, Florida
Lonnie JordanJacksonville, Florida
Piotr KrausePoland
Mitchell KuflikBrooklyn, New York
Roan LightfootJacksonville Beach, Florida
Jeffrey MathiasKingston, Massachusetts
Dylan MeklinRockland, Maine
Marcin NitaPoland
Jan PodgorskiPoland
James PorterJacksonville, Florida
Richard PusatereVirginia Beach, Virginia
Theodore QuammieJacksonville, Florida
Danielle RandolphRockland, Massachusetts
Jeremie RiehmCamden, Delaware
Lashawn RiveraJacksonville, Florida
Howard SchoenlyCape Coral, Florida
Steven ShultzRoan Mountain, Tennessee
German Solar-CortesOrlando, Florida
Anthony ThomasJacksonville, Florida
Andrzej TruszkowskiPoland
Mariette WrightSt. Augustine, Florida
Rafal ZdobychPoland

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