U.S. Coast Guard

El Faro hull underwater
The National Transportation Safety Board

Another fact-finding expedition into why Jacksonville-based cargo ship El Faro sank in the Caribbean two years ago is set to take place Tuesday, this time in Congress.

Gary Marsh

The U.S. Coast Guard wants boat owners to secure their vessels while they still have time before Hurricane Irma’s effects are felt on the First Coast. And because rescues can be difficult during the worst of the storm, no one should try to ride out the weather in a boat.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A year after convening its first hearing into the sinking of cargo freighter El Faro, the U.S. Coast Guard wrapped up its third and final fact-finding session Friday in Jacksonville.

It could be another year or more before investigators issue recommendations.

Day 5: Families Grieve As El Faro Hearings Continue

May 20, 2016

JACKSONVILLE — Week 1 of U.S. Coast Guard hearings into the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro are scheduled wrapped up Friday, with the families of the crew in attendance as they have been all week. 

Pastor Robert Green — the father of LaShawn Rivera, who died on El Faro when it sank in a hurricane last October — handed out  bracelets to people at the hearing Friday, saying it’s just one of the ways he and others want to support all 33 families involved in the incident, including holding grief sessions every fourth week.

Contributed Photo

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

The Marine Board of Investigation Wednesday questioned weather tracking company representatives over the accuracy and timeliness of the data it provides to shipping companies.


Software used to calculate a ship’s stability isn't always accurate. That’s what one witness told a Coast Guard panel investigating the October sinking of the El Faro freighter Thursday.

The weight and stability of the 790-foot vessel was questioned on the second-to-last day of testimony before the Marine Board of Investigation.


Coast Guard rescuers resorted to paper maps during the El Faro search effort in October. That’s because glitches in new vessel-tracking software kept crashing the operation’s onshore computers.

That’s according to testimony investigators heard in Jacksonville Wednesday.


Emotions ran high over the weekend as families of the El Faro crew heard Captain Michael Davidson’s distress calls for the first time.

The Marine Board of Investigation played the call while questioning TOTE Maritime’s “designated person ashore,” Captain John Lawrence. Lawrence was Davidson’s main company contact, but when the El Faro captain called, he could reach only a call center.

Lawrence told investigators the call center had a maritime-emergency plan, but it hadn’t been updated in the last year.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Blame is being pointed at the deceased captain of the El Faro cargo ship at a Coast Guard hearing in Jacksonville this week.

Representatives of the companies that owned and operated the El Faro said Captain Michael Davidson alone made decisions that led the ship into the path of Hurricane Joaquin.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

More than four months after the El Faro cargo ship sank in the Caribbean, Coast Guard officials are gearing up for hearings next week in Jacksonville to find out why.

The board only investigates the most devastating cases.

Allen Baker / MarineTraffic.com

The National Transportation Safety Board is launching a second search for the voice-data recorder of the sunken El Faro cargo ship.

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard will hold hearings in Jacksonville next month to try to find out what caused the El Faro cargo ship to sink last October. The hearings are open to the public.

The testimony is part of the Coast Guard’s investigation into what led to the loss of 33 crewmembers’ lives in Hurricane Joaquin.

“It’s one of the worst marine casualties in the last 35 years. That’s the reason we’re holding these hearings," says Coast Guard Capt. Jason Neubauer.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Senator Bill Nelson may propose reforms to maritime law to address safety concerns after the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship.

Nelson was in Jacksonville Friday to tour a similar ship owned by the same company as the El Faro.

Michelle Corum / WJCT News

The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for survivors of the sunken cargo ship El Faro. The captain reported a mechanical failure shortly before the ship drifted into the path of Hurricane Joaquin last week. Searchers have spotted an empty life boat and other floatation devices, along with at least one human body believed to be a crew member.

On Tuesday, family and friends of the El Faro crew were gathering in Jacksonville to await the latest news.

hall exterior
Michelle Corum / WJCT News

Coast Guard crews are continuing to search for possible survivors from the cargo ship El Faro, which is believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas. The ship left from Jacksonville last Tuesday and the search began Friday.

One of the 33 crew members aboard was Shawn Rivera. His great-uncle, Barry Young, was with other crew members’ families near the Seafarers International Union hall Monday  afternoon.

He says he’s praying for his great-nephew to come home.