Coast Guard searching for missing cargo ship El Faro

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by LongAgoPlebe, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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  2. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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  3. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Can't believe that a US Flagged ship would sail into those conditions. Puts a lot of Coast Guard and other rescue personnel in danger. They are flying at 2K feet in a Hurricane trying to find this ship while Hurricane Hunters fly at over 10K. My Son is an Engineer on US Flagged vessels. I think it was Jacksonville to Puerto Rico run for the El Faro. Take a day and wait for the weather to change. If my son was on that ship and the Captain survived I would shoot him.
     
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  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    There aren't many weather radars out in the middle of the ocean. Weather forecasting at sea is a totally different animal than that we are used to on Channel XYZ Nightly News with XYZ wowza shazaam Radar tracking system that only Channel XYZ nightly news has. Unfortunately the world's cargo doesn't wait on weather, and this is especially true with 'Just In Time' logistics patterns. A captain and the company he/she works for must make the best educated guess they can with the best information they have at the time.
     
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  5. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    Of course there are, they're called satellites and buoys and everyone and anyone can access their data at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ and http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/obs.shtml

    It wasn't like this was a sudden tornado that came out of nowhere, this system has been tracked as a tropical depression and then as a tropical storm and then as a hurricane since it formed.

    The captain and the shipping company were negligent for putting the cargo and crew in harms way.
     
  6. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Yep, just double checked. There's a whole whopping 7 Data buoys covering the area of interest if my count is correct. Okay, satellites, well, they show you what has happened, they don't predict what will happen in the future. What helps are the direct weather reports from ships who report their weather. From that one can get wind speeds, barometric pressure readings, etc.

    You are correct, a weather system was known; however, even the "experts" have totally missed the predicted path of this storm. They were telling the Eastern Seaboard to prepare for landfall....well look where it is now. Meteorology is not an exact science.

    I would let the people with the most experience make those determinations. I can't speak for this particular vessel, but I don't know many Captains who are willing to put their life in extremis when it comes to weather. The Captain who makes the ultimate call takes the same risks as the crew they are leading.
     
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  7. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    You're right. The captain guessed that the storm would miss the ship. Not the other way around.
     
  8. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Says the guy that has had exactly ZERO experience in trying to route his ship to avoid a tropical storm.. It's real easy for you while sitting in the 'cheap seats' to Monday morning quarterback.. It's a wee bit different when you have to make the call down on the field.. It's not as cut and dried as you might think..
     
  9. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    and tropical weather is even less so... It's very unpredictable. Unpredictability is why Typhoons and Hurricanes used to be given female names..
     
  10. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    The choices:

    1. Waiting an extra day---cargo is late, delay costs, etc.
    2. Leave despite the risk of sailing into a known Category 3/4 Hurricane---33 dead crew members, ship lost, cargo lost.​

    Unless they were carrying hearts and kidneys for transplant operations or life-saving medicine to a sick child, there is no cargo worth the risk.

    The "My ship and crew can handle it" mentality of some people in command of vessels (and crew lives) is astonishing.

    Same thing that sank the replica tall ship HMS Bounty during Hurricane/TS Sandy.

    Sexist remark, uncalled for.
     
  11. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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  12. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    It doesn't get much more cut and dry than an intersection of the projected path of a Cat 4-5 hurricane with the passage of a 700+ ft. vessel along an established route. I just read that the ship was projected to have passed very close to the eye.

    When the West Coast stevedores struck last Fall the US economy slowed imperceptibly. Thirty day delays in loading are normal at Brazil's busiest port, Santos. If there was something that needed to be in PR that urgently, it wouldn't have been put on a ship in the first place.

    If the ship owner acquiesced to the Captain's decision or pressured him into departing when he did, it was all about $$$$$. A ship at anchor, at port, or doing circles in the Atlantic earns nothing, like an empty hotel room. The whole thing sounds like Captain Smith and the White Star Line.

    Hopefully the ship's insurer and the families of the victims can go after the owners together rather than fight each other. I am hoping that somehow Mississippi, every tort attorney's Disneyland, can claim jurisdiction.

    Frankly, I get sicker the more I think about it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  13. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    mea culpa if I offended anyone.. It was just something I had heard from old timers I had sailed with as a young 3rd Mate.. I don't happen to agree with it.
    As a matter of fact my wife is very predictable, although when she's mad she is as dangerous as any far east typhoon I've ever encountered.

    That's just absurd. In all my 34 years going to sea I have never seen that mentality displayed by any of the ship masters I sailed for. You make the best decisions you can based on the information you have at hand. There are pressures on ship masters you can't begin to comprehend. It's real easy looking at it in hindsight.. Despite exercising prudence and caution I got caught once; and let me tell you, it's scary and not a whole lot of fun.

    Sometimes remaining in port is not the best course of action. According to the Navy pub Hurricane Havens Handbook for the Atlantic the Mayport/Jacksonville area affords little in the way of protection from hurricanes.
    Here are two quotes from that handbook..

    "Mayport Basin and the Port of Jacksonville are not to be considered a haven during hurricane conditions (forecast winds 64 kt or greater)"

    "Special care should be exercised for hurricanes approaching from the open-ocean southeast quadrant. These have the greatest potential for hazard to shipping at Mayport/Jacksonville. A Mayport/Jacksonville sortie from a hurricane threat from this quadrant is primarily eastward to allow the ship to pass safely north, and then east of the storm. A timely evasion to the east results in the ship safely crossing the track (crossing the "T") and placing the ship well to the east of the storms dangerous semi-circle. A second sortie option is to proceed south out of Mayport/Jacksonville in order to pass safely west, and south of the hurricane threat. A sortie south is the usual action taken for a hurricane approaching from the east-southeast or east."

    Looking at how the storm eventually tracked the only thing I would have done differently is, after departure, set a course more to the south to pass west of Grand Bahama. But again that is based on how things ended up playing out.

    I had to sail from Yokohama into the path of a cat 3 typhoon back many years ago. It was the right call. I had more options out at sea and I certainly didn't want to be bottled up in Tokyo Bay with a monster storm bearing down on me.. It was pretty sporty when I got outside. I ended up running south for almost 20 hours before I could get around behind the storm and shape up on an easterly course for LA.. If ships stayed in port because of possibly encountering 'dirty weather' out at sea, maritime commerce worldwide would come to a halt.

    It will be interesting to see what the data from the VDR reveals when it's recovered. Pray for the crew and their families.
     
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  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's amazing how small a 730' can be in big big seas.

    On my 210', out at sea, you became painfully aware of how small you are, and how, if the sea wants you, it'll take you.
     
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  15. beyond

    beyond KπΣ15'

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    I hope people see a pattern here. People who have been sea and made these kinds of calls are universally agreeing that it isn't cut and dry, while those who sail a desk for a living are casting stones. It was a weakening tropical storm when El Faro left Jacksonville. The loss of the plant was probably another significant factor in all of this.

    It really isn't that simple. Do you have a lay berth? If the storm hits Jacksonville will you be able to get out of the river in time? If you can't get out of Jacksonville where can you go to protect the ship?

    Can you answer the above questions? Didn't think so.

    At 20 knots and 735 feet you have options and in a lot of cases, the ship and crew can handle it. The Bounty leaked like a sieve and didn't have the options El Farro did when it left.

    It's easy to act indignant and decree how reckless the decision makers were only if you've never been in their shoes.
     
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  16. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    good points Beyond, particularly the lost of the plant.. I overlooked mentioning those facts in my previous post. Also from everything I can see the last known position of the EL FARO was actually outside the 'cone of uncertainty' for the storms forecast positions at the time contact was lost..
     
  17. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    If the ship couldn't sit at the port for the reasons mentioned, then why not head due east or NE. I can understand getting caught heading south and then having the storm continue west.

    The storm was tracking at less than 20 knots.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Being in port, in a storm, isn't always the best thing for a ship (or the port). In fact, we would make hurricane plans for harbors of refuge during hurricane season because our homeport just wasn't safe.
     
  19. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    33 human lives would have been safer in port on land. Ships and harbors can be rebuilt, cargo can be replaced.
     
  20. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    Coast Guard confirms human remains, unidentifiable, were found in one of the recovered survival suits.

    ***EDIT - the survival suit (and human remains) were not recovered.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015

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