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NTSB Investigators Search For Answers In El Faro Disappearance

Cyd Hoskinson

The federal investigation into the sinking of the San Juan, Puerto Rico-based cargo ship El Faro kicks into high gear today. The El Faro was a roll-on/roll-off ship that delivered cargo to and from San Juan and Jacksonville.

The El Faro was on its way to Puerto Rico last week when it crossed paths with Hurricane Joaquin and disappeared along with its 33 crew members.   

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived in Jacksonville Tuesday to begin looking into the accident.

NTSB Vice Chairman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr told reporters during a briefing last night that it will be a extremely detailed undertaking.

“Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened," she said. "We will be studying the meteorological conditions and all of the factors that went into the decision making to sail on that day and to continue sailing.”

One item that will help investigators in their search for answers is the El Faro’s voyage-data-recorder, or VDR, which is similar to the black boxes on airplanes.

Dihn-Zarr says the VDR holds information about everything that happened during the twelve hours before the accident.

It was supposed to start pinging its location as soon as it touched water, she says, but searchers have yet to hear it.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.