Missing Jacksonville Cargo Ship Sank in Hurricane Joaquin

Posted on October 5, 2015

The cargo ship El Faro left Jacksonville on September 29 for a routine trip to Puerto Rico, carrying nearly 400 shipping containers and another 300 automobile trailers. Two days later, contact with the ship was lost as Hurricane Joaquin slammed the Caribbean with winds over 130 mph. In the last communication from the ship, the crew reported that El Faro was taking on water and tilted 15 degrees, but that the situation was still “manageable.” When the ship set sail, Joaquin was still just a tropical storm.

On October 5, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it believes El Faro, carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals, has sunk. High winds and rough seas caused by Hurricane Joaquin likely sank the El Faro near its last known location in the Bahamas. The Coast Guard, the Air Force and the Navy have teamed to cover over 70,000 square miles of ocean searching for the 790-foot ship. The Coast Guard discovered a 200 square mile debris field north of the Bahamas where rescue teams found Styrofoam, wood, cargo and one set of human remains, but no sign of the ship.

For the 33 crew members, there were 46 survival suits on board designed to hold a person upright and hold off hypothermia. Several suits have been recovered, but only one had human remains. Along with the suits, the ship had two 43-passenger lifeboats, one that has been found empty, and five life rafts that could hold a total of 106 passengers. Even though the ship is most likely gone, Coast Guard search teams still hope to find survivors. Hurricane weather conditions make survival more difficult, but a person can survive four or five days in warm water.

Anytime a ship and its crew are lost at sea is a tragedy. With the shipping industry such a big part of Florida life, it’s important to know what steps to take if you’ve lost a loved one in a commercial shipping boat accident or wreck. The attorneys of Farah & Farah can be there for you during this difficult time. Contact us at (877) 245-6707.

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