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Coast Guard To Hold El Faro Hearings In Jacksonville Next Month

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.

He says investigators will interview former El Faro crewmembers and employees of the ship’s operator, TOTE Services.

“This is the highest level of Coast Guard investigation that we conduct, and it is rare,” once every few years, he says.

The goals are to find out what and who caused the disaster and what recommendations could keep the same thing from happening again. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a separate investigation, and Neubauer says the two organizations will work together to ensure they reach the same final conclusion.

The Coast Guard hearings are scheduled for Jacksonville’s Prime Osborn Convention Center from Feb. 16 to Feb. 26, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP