BOSTON (CBS) — Exactly two years after the El Faro cargo ship sank, the Coast Guard is releasing the results of their investigation into what went wrong.
The report placed most of the blame on the ship’s owner and captain.
El Faro was sailing from the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico in 2015. It sank near the Bahamas in the middle of Hurricane Joaquin.
“The master misjudged the path of Hurricane Joaquin and overestimated the vessels heavy weather survivability while also failing to take adequate precautions to monitor and prepare for heavy weather,” said Coast Guard Captain Jason Neubauer, chairman of the El Faro Marine Board of Investigations.
None of the 33 members on board were recovered. Two victims, Jeffery Mathias and Keith Griffin, were members of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s class of 2005.
The sinking was the worst maritime disaster for a US flagged vessel since 1983.
Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stress crew fight to save the ship after it lost propulsion.
“During critical periods of navigation, where watch standards were looking into toward the master’s guidance and expertise, he failed to understand the severity of the situation,” said Neubauer.
The Marine Board of Investigations also showed the American Bureau of Shipping and the Coast Guard failed to perform inspection duties on the ship.
The ship’s owner, Tote Maritime, also failed to recognize that heavy was a threat to the ship.
Neubauer said, “Tote was responsible for maintaining the El Faro and the MBI’s findings indicate that their safety measure system was ineffective at resolving disparities and insufficient in supporting the vessel operations.”
The report included 39 recommendations to the Coast Guard, 31 are meant to prevent future deaths.