On Monday, we discussed the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship off the coast of the Bahamas, with 33 crewmembers on board and who are believed to have died.
As we noted, lawsuits are being filed in connection to the alleged sinking, with family members claiming negligence on the part of operator TOTE Maritime. Claims say the vessel should not have been operated during the rough weather offered by Hurricane Joaquin.
With this in mind, the South Florida Sun Sentinel spoke to one expert who said he believes that rough seas caused by the hurricane may have dredged up sediment at the bottom of the vessel’s fuel tank, clogging up its engine filters, forcing them to shut down.
“The sediment is common in large ships and gets so thick that it’s like sludge,” Terry Pope, a yacht captain for more than 40 years, told the newspaper. “The result is that the engine shuts down.”
The ship’s last contact was an emergency call placed on Oct. 1, with the crew reporting that the vessel was taking on water and its engine stopped. “[O]nce the 735-foot vessel lost power, it was a sitting duck, easily overtaken by what was then a rapidly intensifying Hurricane Joaquin,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
Nevertheless, none of the theories presented by experts do a good job explaining why the ship’s captain decided to sail in poor weather conditions. Pope told the paper that the ship could have avoided the storm by taking a less direct route—the vessel was on its way from Florida to Puerto Rico.
“Considering today’s sophisticated technology and advanced weather forecasting,” the Sun Sentinel reported, “[The captain] should have had ample warning that a hurricane was brewing near the ship’s path.”
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, is expected to locate the vessel’s “black box,” similar to those on airplanes, if it finds the vessel, which should provide it with some communicative input into the ship’s disappearance.
Speak to Our Maritime Attorneys Following a Cargo Ship Accident
We will continue to update you about the El Faro over the upcoming weeks, so make sure you follow our blog. Many questions are being asked right now when it comes to the disappearance of this ship—one of the biggest is why it was being operated in such poor weather conditions.
The families of the lost crewmember aboard El Faro have suffered a terrible loss. Because maritime law is complex and federal investigations can take so long to complete, it will be important for them to seek legal representation.
In the aftermath of maritime accidents, many vessel operators do everything they can to limit a family’s ability to recover damages. Our maritime attorneys are knowledgeable when it comes to the complexities of the law. We pursue claims under the Jones Act and other forms of law, and fight anticipated Petitions for Limitation of Liability. Visit our verdicts and settlement page for more information.
Call our maritime law firm today if your loved one has been killed in a cargo ship accident. Our maritime law firm represents victims nationwide.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Nationwide Maritime Attorneys