Today, October 1, 2017, marks the second anniversary of the El Faro sinking. Two years ago, the ship went into distress after moving straight into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, a storm much like the recent Hurricane Maria that just devastated the Caribbean.
The El Faro sinking occurred near the Bahamas while the vessel made its way toward Puerto Rico. The last anyone heard of the cargo ship was a distress signal reporting an inflow of seawater. After an extensive search that lasted eight days long, authorities found the ship in a watery grave three miles under the sea. The two severed upper decks of the ship lay a half-mile apart from the body.
Many unanswered questions still remain from that fateful day in 2015 when 33 crew members perished. Luckily for the victims’ families, the U.S. Coast Guard has released a report today outlining the reasons for the ship’s sinking.
Out2Sea.com would like to pay its own tribute to the victims of this tragedy. Who were those brave crew members whose lives were cut short? While we may never know the heroism these 33 mariners displayed in their final moments, we can certainly celebrate the lives they lived.
Today, we remember El Faro second mate Danielle Randolph, a cheerful, beautiful lady from Rockland, Maine who grew up yearning for a life at sea. She spent summers working for her aunt’s lobster business on the docks of Port Clyde, before attending Maine Maritime Academy. Before the ship sank, she sent an email to her mother, telling her to “give my love to everyone.”
We remember Joe Hargrove, a 65-year-old Navy veteran who served on the USS Midway during Operation Desert Storm. He spent many years on the water before his fateful journey on El Faro and was remembered for his stellar work ethic.
We remember Dylan Meklin, a 23-year-old sailing on his first official voyage as a merchant mariner. A multi-sport athlete who excelled in football, basketball, and baseball, Meklin had recently graduated from a maritime academy.
For Louis Champa, Roosevelt Clark, Sylvester Crawford Jr., Captain Michael Davidson, Brookie Davis, Keith Griffin, Frank Hamm, Carey Hatch, Lonnie Jordan, Jeffrey Mathias, Michael Holland, Jack Jackson, Jackie Jones Jr., Piotr Krause, Mitchell Kuflik, Roan Lightfoot, Marcin Nita, Jan Podgorski, James Porter, Richard Pusatere, Theodore Quammie, Jeremie Riehm, Lashawn Rivera, Howard Schoenly, Steven Schultz, German Solar-Cortes, Anthony Thomas, Andrzej Truszkowski, Mariette Wright and Rafal Zdobych – your names will never be forgotten.
Those planning to read the Coast Guard report on the El Faro sinking should look out for several unanswered questions. The Coast Guard has held several hearings on the El Faro sinking since fall of 2015. These hearings have raised concerns about the old ship’s condition heading into the voyage.
A naval architect in a hearing earlier this year alleged that the ship could not handle the multiple sources of flooding that likely ensued from the high seas of Hurricane Joaquin. Other similar concerns relate to how the shipping containers onboard were secured. It’s highly probable that at some point after taking on water, the containers began to come loose. This likely prompted a chaotic situation on the ship’s deck.
Other questions have to do with how well the shipping company, TOTE Maritime, prepared the crew for the voyage. Did crew members receive enough rest in the days leading up to the October 1 disaster? Those involved in the hearings have also wondered why the crew never deployed the open-air lifeboats, even though Captain Michael Davidson gave the order to abandon ship.
The El Faro sinking was the deadliest U.S. maritime tragedy in more than 60 years. The Coast Guard report may not bring back the lives of the 33 on board. However, it may offer some guidance for avoiding the next major tragedy at sea.
To access the full report on the El Faro sinking, please visit this link!