“In this case, it's a major marine casualty, so the NTSB has an agreement with the Coast Guard, and we'll be looking at all the factors that affected the safety (of the ship and) why it happened, to prevent it from happening again,” said NTSB Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zar at a press conference.
“We'll look at the voyage data recorder,” she noted.
“It's important to try to find that. We'll be looking at any objects that may be perishable. We'll be interviewing anyone involved. The purpose is to find out what happened.”
Container ship El Faro, which is run by American firm Tote Services, was engulfed by Hurricane Joaquin on Thursday 1 October, while sailing from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A notification that the vessel was in distress was received by the US Coast Guard that day, but no further contact was made.
There were 33 personnel onboard, including 5 auxiliary crew-members from Poland.
Over the last two days one body has been found in a rescue suit, as well as a battered lifeboat and various items of debris.
An engine problem?
Phil Greene, president and CEO of Tote Services, has claimed that El Faro's captain had been confident that he would manage to stay ahead of the storm.
“Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm,” Greene said.
“We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems.”
The first two days of the rescue efforts were hampered by extreme weather conditions, with rescuers facing winds of over 100 miles per hour.
The US Coast Guard has confirmed in a statement that it has scanned an area of 172,257 square nautical miles. The search for survivors continues. (nh/rk)
Source: uscgnews.com, CNN, news4jax.com