The search to determine the cause of the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship during Hurricane Joaquin has experienced another setback yeasterday after a salvage team located the bridge deck that separated from the wreckage, but was unable to find the voyage data recorder (VDR). The VDR which is similar to an airplane’s black box, is usually affixed to the ship’s bridge and should contain the last 12 hours of information related to the ship’s engine and other communications from the bridge.
The wreck of the ship was discovered 15,000 feet underwater earlier this month but the bridge was missing. The search then turned to finding the bridge in hope of recovering the VDR. That was found about one mile from the main wreckage yesterday.
Now, says the US National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) – which contracted the US Navy to locate the sunken freighter, document the wreckage and debris field and recover the VDR – attention has turned to finding the recorder elsewhere. It will be a much harder task as the VDR is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage.
“This makes our job harder, but we’re going to try” to find it, said Eric Weiss, an NTSB spokesman.
El Faro, owned by Sea Star Line, LLC, and operated by TOTE Services, and its crew of 33 disappeared on October 1 northeast of Crooked Island in the Bahamas, after sailing into the path of the Category 4 Joaquin as it headed to Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and vehicles.