A missing cargo ship with 33 on board has likely sunk
by Mike Arellano, on Oct 5, 2015 10:08:18 AM
Officials said El Faro, a 735 foot-long loaded cargo ship, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida. They said they received notification that the ship had lost power around 7 a.m. ET, Thursday near Crooked Island in the eastern Bahamas, one of the islands most battered by Hurricane Joaquin. As it battled 20 to 30 foot seas, El Faro was carrying 294 trailers and automobiles in its hold, in addition to 391 shipping containers on-deck. Joaquin was packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported at the time El Faro disappeared.
An approaching hurricane is the last thing a marine vessel operator wants to hear about. Not only do vessels have to avoid these dangerous storms, they need to plan ahead of the storm, knowing if they should attempt passage before the onset of adverse conditions, and if underway, which nearest port they should steer for to take refuge.
If a vessel is in port prior to a hurricane threat, the operator must decide if the vessel should depart. The pressure of keeping to a schedule weighs heavily on this decision. If the vessel departs, or is already underway, there should be contingency plans in place if the vessel needs to reroute and seek safe harbor. The operator should also be aware of the possibility of port closures, which may greatly put the vessel in harm’s way.
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