El Faro data recorder can’t be retrieved, map of wreckage released

The data recorder that may have chronicled the last moments of the cargo ship El Faro cannot be retrieved during the current mission, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Because of where the data recorder came to rest on the bottom of the ocean and other obstructions, the recovery is impossible with the equipment available on the recovery ship.

Capture

The recorder remains attached to a steel beam connected to the mast of the ship, which was sheared off as the boat struggled in Hurricane Joaquin before sinking. All 33 crew members were killed.

“Now that we have been able to see just how the data recorder is oriented relative to the mast structure, it’s clear that we are going to need specialized deep-water salvage recovery equipment in order to bring it up,” said Brian Curtis, acting director of the NTSB Office of Marine Safety. “Extracting a recorder capsult attached to a four-ton mast under 15,000 feet of water presents formidable challenges, but we’re going to do everything that is technically feasible to get that recorder to our lab.”

There is no time frame to launch a second mission, but the current team of scientists and investigators will continue to take photos of the ship’s hull and debris field.

While the Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin is to blame for sinking El Faro, the circumstances of how it ended up in the storm’s path remain unclear.

READ: Hurricane Joaquin was an  unlikely killer. 

In negligence lawsuits filed in federal court by families of the crew, maritime experts debate the path from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico chosen by El Faro’s captain and whether he followed early forecasts that proved faulty or purposefully drove head-on into the storm.

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