An American cargo ship has gone missing during Hurricane Joaquin on Thursday 1st October.
The search for El Faro and its 33 crew members continued into Sunday night off Crooked Island in the Bahamas after covering 70,000 square nautical miles since Thursday. Two Coast Guard cutters were expected to stay in the area and search through the night as downgraded Hurricane Joaquin continued to move northeast towards Bermuda.
The vessel’s crew consists of 28 U.S. citizens and 5 Polish Nationals.
The El Faro, a 790-foot roll-on/rolloff cargo ship, departed Jacksonville, Florida on September 29th en route to San Juan with 391 containers, 294 trailers and cars. The last communication from the ship was a Inmarsat satellite notification received Thursday morning (Oct. 1) at 7:30 a.m. stating that the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list. The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.
Life jackets, life rings, containers and an oil sheen have been located by Coast Guard aircrews, the Coast Guard said in an update Sunday morning. An update from the Coast Guard on Sunday evening said the debris was spread over 225 square miles and included Styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items. The debris was still not confirmed to be from the El Faro.
The Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton and the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute were en-route to assist with the search as of Sunday morning. Other Coast Guard assets involved in Sunday’s search included two HC-130 Hercules airplanes, the cutter Northland and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. The search also involved the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and several tugboats contracted by the El Faro‘s owner, TOTE Maritime.