VDR from El Faro Recovered, Continuing U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s Investigation of the Sinking

sunken shipThe events and the causes leading to the catastrophic sinking of the El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015, continue to be the focus of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as it begins its review of the voyage data recorder(VDR). El Faro was a United States cargo ship that sank last fall killing all 33 members on board. It has been considered the worst U.S. cargo shipping disaster in over 30 years.  The VDR, as it is referred to on ships, is a vessel’s black box investigators use for accident investigation after the fact. The VDR from El Faro was finally recovered from the ocean floor after 10 months of attempting to retrieve it.

According to reports, about 26 hours of information was able to be recovered from El Faro’s voyage data recorder. The VDR is going to provide very critical information, including the following: a discussion about the ship losing propulsion, a discussion between the crew and the master, Captain Michael Davidson, pertaining to the flooding, a discussion between the master and shoreside personal pertaining to the critical situation at hand, and the captain ordering the crew to abandon the ship.

The actual voice recordings are not made available to the public during the investigation stage. The National Transportation Safety Board has reported that a complete review of the VDR will take quite some time because it is very difficult to hear everything with all the noise taken place during the times leading up to the actual sinking, and continuing through until power was lost.

Our firm has handled several cases involving vessels lost at sea during a hurricane. Too often companies make a decision to continue on voyages despite weather forecasts, or simply make grievous navigational errors. Of course, maintenance issues pertaining to the vessel are often involved.

Many times cruise ship companies decide not to cancel a cruise despite hurricane warnings, attempting to navigate around the hurricane in order to avoid canceling the cruise, and losing the income associated with the cruise. Often times, passengers and crew have been put at risk because of economic decisions not to cancel an itinerary despite weather forecasts.

If an injury or death occurs due to encounters with rough weather, a maritime case can likely be brought against the vessel operator. Of course, sometimes there is simply an unavoidable encounter with unexpected rough weather. However, with the modern technology, this would be a rare event. More likely, some negligence would be involved, possibly gross negligence warranting punitive damages.

Our Miami-based maritime personal injury and wrongful death firm handles all types of incidents that occur at sea. An incident occurring at sea involving a vessel will be governed by very special maritime laws, and a maritime attorney should be consulted if you have been injured or harmed at sea.

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