U.S. military rescue teams from the Coast Guard and Navy are searching for survivors of a fatal shipwreck that was caused by the devastating conditions of Hurricane Joaquin.
According to CBS News, a cargo ship named El Faro was destroyed last week as its captain attempted to bypass the hurricane. Rescuers are desperately scouring the area where the ship is presumed to have sunk in an attempt to locate possible survivors.
The 790-foot ship was carrying vehicles and other large industrial goods from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico when it sank in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas. Also on board were 33 crew members, one of whom was found dead in a survival suit upon the arrival of rescue teams.
El Faro is presumed to have been disabled while bypassing the storm due to a mechanical failure within the ship. Its captain, identified as Michael Davidson, had conferred with El Faro’s sister ship about weather concerns before deciding to continue the trip.
“Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm,” said Phil Greene, president and CEO of the company that owns El Faro, Tote Services Inc.
“We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems.”
Approximately 95% of the world’s cargo moves by ship, and crew members are well aware of the dangers that come with traveling by sea. Weather issues are often neglected by captains who are committed to staying on schedule.
Terrence Meadows, a junior engineer and member of the Master Mates and Pilots Union, thinks that El Faro’s captain may have prioritized his cargo over the safety of his crew members.
“I personally believe that should not have happened,” Meadows said. “We are the most important cargo on that vessel, not the cars.”
According to AL.com, Hurricane Joaquin is in a “state of gradual decay” after blistering through the Atlantic Ocean. It was the strongest hurricane of 2015 in the Atlantic with winds topping 155 MPH as it moved away from the Bahamas.
A mangled lifeboat from El Faro was discovered by rescuers with no one aboard. Also spotted were an oil sheen, cargo containers, and one of the five rafts that were on the ship.
Rescue efforts are ongoing. The National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard is currently investigating the sinking.