USCG has held Marine Board of Investigation hearings into El Faro accident focusing on the transcript of the containership’s bridge audio recordings, released by NTSB last year. The U.S. flagged El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2015. All 33 of the El Faro’s crew perished in the accident.
During the hearings, testimonies revealed that the cargo ship that sank after losing propulsion in a hurricane could have suffered a catastrophic boiler explosion. Lou O’Donnell, assistant chief surveyor with the American Bureau of Shipping, claims that the cargo ship’s hot boiler could have exploded if it was exposed to cold water entering the sinking ship.
Furthermore, Coast Guard Capt. Jason Neubauer said images of the ship’s wreckage 15,000-feet-deep in the Atlantic show evidence of damage that could possibly be caused from a blast. O’Donnell further said he had reviewed the photos, however it is not sure if an explosion had occurred.
A testimony by Capt. Raymond Thompson casts doubts on the safety conditions onboard El Faro after quoting that he was not sure if life jackets were stored on the bridge as required. The ship’s voyage data recorder has shown that while El Faro was sinking, crew members on the bridge scrambled to get their life jackets, even though the safety equipment is required to be there.
When investigative hearings complete, USCG has said it will release a report with all finding in an effort to shed light to the accident and determine its causes.