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The El Faro


here are no words to comfort the loved ones and friends of those lost in the sinking of the steamship El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. The only thing we can do as a maritime community to honor those that perished that day is to learn from the tragedy to prevent future incidents from occurring. A good place to start is the summary of the findings recently issued by investigators at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on December 12, 2017. While the NTSB does not make rules, their suggestions are taken very seriously. The NTSB had 81 findings in the Executive Summary, with more specific recommendations to the Coast Guard, ABS, TOTE, and other interested parties. Prior to the release of the findings, we did 22 Marine Log // February 2018

our best to analyze the incident to determine what new laws, regulations or standards might emerge in the wake of the incident

The company’s failure to ensure implementation of bridge resource management contributed to the sinking. (The Tragic Loss of the El Faro, ML March 2017, page 24). While once again the NTSB doesn’t promulgate any rules, their findings

will help us determine which way the wind might be blowing. The NTSB’s Finding 52 is of particular interest. “The company’s lack of oversight in critical aspects of safety management, including gaps in training for shipboard operations in severe weather, denoted a weak safety culture, in the company and contributed to the sinking of the El Faro.” This finding is supported by many of the findings referencing the lack of implementing safety standards on board the vessel by the company. In our March 2017 article, we discussed a “Nautical Expert.” This term was used by the investigators during the hearings. The following findings are supportive evidence that the industry will have to accept the need for a true Nautical Expert in their offices. Other findings of interest:



Marine Log February 2018  
Marine Log February 2018