Coast Guard says ship captain 'misjudged' hurricane in sinking that killed 33

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Associated Press
October 1, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Captain Jason Neubauer says the Coast Guard would have sought to revoke the license of the El Faro cargo ship's captain if he had survived.

Neubauer said at a news conference Sunday that El Faro Captain Michael Davidson "was ultimately responsible for the vessel, the crew and its safe navigation."

Neubauer, who chaired the Coast Guard investigation, says Davidson "misjudged the path of Hurricane Joaquin and overestimated the vessel's heavy weather survivability, while also failing to take adequate precautions to monitor and prepare for heavy weather."

Nuebauer said of the captain, "he failed to understand the severity of the situation" even when told the hurricane was intensifying.

The Coast Guard report also named other factors in the disaster.

Neubauer says the ship's owner, TOTE Maritime Inc., had not replaced a safety officer, spreading out those duties among other managers, and had violated regulations regarding crew rest periods and working hours.

The Coast Guard says it will seek civil actions against TOTE, but no criminal penalties, as there was no criminal intent.

Associated Press
Oct. 1, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Coast Guard is scheduled to release its final report on the sinking of a cargo ship two years ago that killed all 33 aboard.

The report released Sunday will make recommendations stemming from the Oct. 1, 2015, sinking of the El Faro, a 790-foot (240-meter) vessel that went down near the Bahamas when its captain tried to cut through Hurricane Joaquin. The Jacksonville, Florida-based ship was headed to Puerto Rico.

Investigators have not released a probable cause or contributing factors in the sinking.

Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stressed crew fighting to save the ship after it lost propulsion as they battled wind, shifting cargo and waves.

Capt. Michael Davidson ordered the ship abandoned shortly before it sank.

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