El Faro

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.

  We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union columnist; A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics writer; Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly editor; and WJCT news analyst John Burr.

Topics include this week's community conversation hosted by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny and Sheriff Mike Williams about youth violence and public safety, the new investigation into the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, and more.

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.

El Faro Crew Members' Families Settle With Shipper For $500K

Jan 25, 2016
crew members' photos

The company that owns the Jacksonville-based cargo ship that went down near Puerto Rico during Hurricane Joaquin Oct. 1 has agreed to a settlement with the families of 10 of the 33 mariners who were lost at sea.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson wants federal investigators to take another dive into the Atlantic to locate the data recorder for sunken cargo ship El Faro.

Nelson says the recorder could go a long way toward piecing together why the ship sailed directly into a powerful hurricane three months ago.

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Federal and state authorities are stepping up their efforts to fight human trafficking of all types, whether it's minors forced into the sex trade or workers coerced into unpaid labor.

Florida is an epicenter for trafficking.

As the nation marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we speak with Amanda Rolfe, President, and Prudence Williams, Executive Director, of the Exchange Club Family Center of Northeast Florida about what’s being done here on the First Coast to raise awareness and bring traffickers to justice. 


The TV newsmagazine "60 Minutes" will tell the story of the El Faro cargo ship disaster this Sunday on CBS.

John Paul Kotara II / U.S. Navy

Investigators have located the navigation deck of the sunken El Faro cargo ship.

A Navy tugboat confirmed it had found the rest of the ship almost two weeks ago.

The latest find is important because the vessel’s data recorder, which can hold information about how the El Faro met its fate, is fastened to the bridge deck.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the search for the recorder is now underway.

The cargo ship, owned by TOTE Services, sank near the Bahamas when it crossed paths with Hurricane Joaquin last month.

Ruling: El Faro Crew's Families Can't Sue TOTE

Nov 4, 2015

TOTE Maritime won an order Wednesday that tells the families of El Faro crew members they cannot file a lawsuit against the shipping company.

The families have until December 21 to file any intent to claim compensation with TOTE's lawyers.

National Transportation Safety Board

UPDATE  1:06 p.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed the wreckage found is in fact from the El Faro. Federal investigators say it may take more than two weeks to recover the vessel's data recorder, which is fixed to the ship.

More details as the story develops. 

Wreckage of what is believed to be the El Faro cargo ship that sunk a month ago was discovered around the vessel's last known location.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced the finding Saturday afternoon after a Navy boat caught a glimpse of what's believed to be the sunken ship under 15,000 feet of water.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the Navy tug boat tasked with searching for the the sunken El Faro cargo ship in its last known location has yet to find signs of the vessel.

The Navy arrived in the area four days ago but concluded its first phase of the search Monday.

Using a sonar system, the Navy began the second phase of its search Tuesday, and it's expected last for the next two weeks.

The Navy is now conducting a 13 side sonar scan in hopes catching a glimpse of the El Faro’s final resting place.

A third lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a crew member’s family after the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro. The litigation has been filed in federal court under the Jones Act, which functions in part as workers’ compensation for mariners.

Fort Myers attorney Elizabeth Kagan says El Faro Captain Michael Davidson and shipping company TOTE Maritime are responsible for the deaths of 33 crew members even though the vessel passed its annual inspections.

The ill-fated cargo ship El Faro met all rules and regulations set by the American Bureau of Shipping and passed its annual U.S. Coast Guard inspection in March. Although repairs to its boilers were scheduled for after the ship was supposed to return to Jacksonville.

That’s what the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday after investigating the ship’s sinking in Hurricane Joaquin.

Reihm family

Another lawsuit has been filed in the aftermath of the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship.

The family of crew member Jeremie Reihm say both the manufacturer and the operator of the vessel are guilty of negligence.