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Old 07-10-2015, 12:56   #31
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

This has been on our local news every night since it happened. I too am curious about what could have caused such a situation. I do," like everyone else", feel for the families but it is not not like we started the conversation. It is all over national news now. Have they even found the ship? I have seen where debris and a lifeboat were found but that's it. I would have thought the ship had some type of GPS alert for location especially during such an
emergency.
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Old 07-10-2015, 13:14   #32
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Quote:
When I read The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, one statistic that astonished me was that “two large ships sink every week on average [worldwide] ” according to Dr Wolfgang Rosenthal. The author, Susan Carson, suggests that the numbers are high, but that

“every year, on average, more than two dozen large ships sink, or otherwise go missing, taking their crews along with them.”

In a prescient comment, she says,

“imagine the headlines if even a single 747 slipped off the map with all its passengers and was never heard from again”.
Here are some astonishing comments that may put this disaster in context. How this is allowed to continue amazes me. IMO its because the sea has essentially always been "deregulated".
How many ships disappear each year? | Actuarial Eye
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Old 07-10-2015, 13:46   #33
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

they cannot find the ship because it is under the sea. it rolled over with a list of 15 degrees and broached due to loss of powerplant. down blug glug. saad. one beat up lifeboat found.
when there is no ship seen in a 70000+mile search grid, it is sunk. gone bye bye sad but truth. no other scenario works.
r i p to all were on board. one guy got out. search ends today at sunset. sad sad sad.
el faro means lighthouse. it is a beacon of bright light.
may their beacon shine for all to see forevermore. sad but gone.
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Old 07-10-2015, 14:25   #34
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Here are some astonishing comments that may put this disaster in context. How this is allowed to continue amazes me. IMO its because the sea has essentially always been "deregulated".
How many ships disappear each year? | Actuarial Eye
I think this is a very valid and telling point .....and one we tacitly accept.

Is it because marine transport is an ancient mode of transport, or the economics of risk, when compared to the very tightly regulated air transport industry?

The public would never tolerate the same amount of passenger jets being lost every year ......yet slow moving ships expose themselves to weather systems for days on end and learn to navigate around the worst.

Even more telling is that we accept the loss of thousands of cargo containers and fishermen every year in obviously stressful weather conditions, yet no government would dare to regulate when a ship should begin a passage unless the storm had already closed the Port.

Placing Blame on the Master is a stupid concept when assessing a maritime loss that was caused by a series of tragic events, while he was trying to do his job.

Every commercial captain has been there where decisions are influenced by the expectations of others.

All we can do is to file away any lessons learned from analyzing the tragedy and hope it serves us one day.
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Old 07-10-2015, 14:33   #35
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Not wanting to get into arguments about "what caused" El Faro to sink / break apart, etc....I thought it better to start a new thread about the weather / weather forecasts, and the decision making of merchant vessel's captains...

So, here goes:

Regarding the M/V El Faro's final voyage...
Using US NHC forecasts / advisories, and El Faro's time/position data from Marine Traffic...

I understand that merchant vessels sail to meet schedules....
And, I understand that a forecast of a Tropical Storm might not detour a merchant vessel, that is trying to make its scheduled off-load...
But, there was forecast a building / strengthening storm prior to El Faro's departure, and the route sailed by El Faro seems like the normal rhumbline course (or slightly west of the rhumbline as they neared the storm, due to Marine Traffic's last posted position is about 15nm east of the southern end of Cat Island, between Cat Island and San Salvador....which is 60nm - 100nm west of the rhumbline), and this would place El Faro directly in the path of this strengthening storm.

{And, even en route, prior to encountering the truly severe weather / entering the eye wall of the hurricane, the weather info / forecasts clearly showed further strengthening, and the vessel seems to have continued on into the heart of the storm, rather than change course (such as changing course about 12 hours into the voyage, when still north of the Bahamas, head west towards Florida and either go south when west of the Bahamas (bucking the Stream, or head into Ft. Pierce, etc.....or even 6 - 8 hours later, 18- 20 hours into voyage, when east of the NE Providence Channel, head West thru the NE Providence Channel / NW Providence Channel, away from the storm)....}



A CNN-reported quote from one of El Faro's owners (Pres and CEO of the company who owns El Faro), is true / partially true, but doesn't really tell the whole truth / whole story!
If you actually look at the forecasts, prior to departure and at time of departure, an argument can be made that this might have been "no worries" for a big ship / experienced crew, but just 12 hours after departure, the picture got far worse....and certainly prior to their encountering propulsion / maneuvering issues, there were opportunities to change course and mitigate the effects of the storm!


I thought some might be interested in the the official US National Hurricane Center's Forecasts, for Tropical Storm Joaquin / Hurricane Joaquin, the evening and entire day preceding El Faro's departure from Jacksonville, FL, and while en route, along the rhumbline course from Jax FL to Puerto Rico:

This info taken directly from the NHC page...
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archiv/2015/JOAQUIN.shtml?

Here are the official NHC Forecasts disseminated PRIOR to El Faro's departure...and while en route...
Departure reported as "sometime on Tuesday 29 Sep 2015", but it seems was likely very late Tuesday night, approx 0132z to 0229z (from Marine Traffic: JACKSONVILLE [US] (2015-09-30 01:32:00 and 2015-09-30 02:29) when the NHC forecast from 0300z Wed would have been hot in the hand of the El faro's captain)....
http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/details/ships/shipid:454389/mmsi:368208000/imo:7395351/vessel:EL_FARO

Marine Traffic's last posted position of El Faro was on 0401z Thr Oct 1st, at 24.2747*N / 74.94522* W...and 3 and 1/2 days later, the USCG spotted/recovered debris at 23.4*N / 73.9*W on the afternoon of Oct 4th...


--- As of 11pm Monday night (0300z, Tue Sept 29 2015):
TS Joaquin current position:
26.7N 70.4W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 230 DEGREES AT 4 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1002 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/0000Z
27.1N 72.0W
MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/1200Z
27.2N 72.8W
MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0000Z
27.4N 73.4W
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.


--- As of 5am Tue morning (0900z Tue Sept 29, 2015):
TS Joaquin current position:
26.6N 70.6W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST OR 270 DEGREES AT 4 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1002 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/0600Z
26.7N 72.2W
MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/1800Z
26.8N 72.8W
MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0600Z
27.1N 73.2W
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.


--- As of 11am Tue morning (1500z Tue Sept 29, 2015):
TS Joaquin current position:
26.5N 70.8W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST OR 260 DEGREES AT 4 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1001 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 40 KT WITH GUSTS TO 50 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/1200Z
26.3N 72.4W
MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0000Z
26.2N 73.1W
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1200Z
26.1N 73.7W
MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT.



--- As of 5pm Tue afternoon (2100z Tue Sept 29, 2015):
This Forecast / Advisory was likely the next to last one available, or possibly the last one available, prior to departure.
And, the El Faro's skipper seemed to lay a course that would take him directly into a building / strengthening weather system (where winds were forecast to be 75kts, gusting to 90 kts, and seas in excess of 25' - 30', by morning of Oct 1st, just ~ 36 hours ahead)


TS Joaquin current position:
NEAR 26.0N 71.0W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-SOUTHWEST OR 240 DEGREES AT 4 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 990 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 55 KT WITH GUSTS TO 65 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/0600Z
25.8N 71.6W
MAX WIND 60 KT...GUSTS 75 KT..

FORECAST VALID 30/1800Z
25.5N 72.5W
MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0600Z
25.1N 73.3W
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1800Z
24.8N 73.9W
MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT.





EDIT::
Tues night the NHC started interim advisories every 3 hours....so, more updated info was also available...


--- As of 11pm Tue evening (0300z Wed Sept 30, 2015):
This Forecast / Advisory was likely the final one available, prior to departing Jax / heading out the St. John's River mouth.
And, the El Faro's skipper seemed to lay a course that would take him directly into a building / strengthening weather system (where winds were forecast to be 80kts, gusting to 100 kts,
and seas in excess of 25' - 30', by morning of Oct 1st, just ~ 30 - 36 hours ahead)

TS Joaquin current position:
25.8N 71.7W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-SOUTHWEST OR 240 DEGREES AT 4 KT ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 988 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 60 KT WITH GUSTS TO 75 KT.

FORECAST VALID 30/1200Z
25.5N 72.4W
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0000Z
25.2N 73.3W
MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1200Z
24.8N 74.1W
MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0000Z
24.9N 74.5W
MAX WIND 85 KT...GUSTS 105 KT.



--- As of 5am Wed Morning (0900z Wed Sept 30, 2015):
TS Joaquin current position:
25.4N 72.5W
MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-SOUTHWEST OR 245 DEGREES AT 5 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 988 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 60 KT WITH GUSTS TO 75 KT

FORECAST VALID 30/1800Z
25.1N 73.0W
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0600Z
24.7N 73.8W
MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1800Z
24.7N 74.5W
MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0600Z
25.2N 74.7W
MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT.



--- As of 11am Wed Morning (1500z Wed Sept 30, 2015):
This was approx 12 hours after departure, when El Faro was still north of the Bahamas, approx. 150nm east of Ft. Pierce, FL...

Hurricane Joaquin current position:
24.7N 72.6W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 230 DEGREES AT 5 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 971 MB EYE DIAMETER 50 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 70 KT WITH GUSTS TO 85 KT

FORECAST VALID 01/0000Z
24.3N 73.2W
MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1200Z
24.1N 74.0W
MAX WIND 85 KT...GUSTS 105 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0000Z
24.4N 74.4W
MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/1200Z
25.3N 74.5W
MAX WIND 95 KT...GUSTS 115 KT.



--- As of 5pm Wed Afternoon (2100z Wed Sept 30, 2015):
This was approx 18 hours after departure, when El Faro was east of the NE Providence Channel, Bahamas....(by probably 50 - 60nm), but probably encountering Gale force to Storm force winds being 120nm - 150nm from the center of Joaquin, and possibly having initial maneuvering / propulsion issues?? But, still continued on, toward the path of a building/strengthening storm?? (this was 7 hours prior to their last Marine Traffic posted position, and ~ 10 - 12 hours before their distress call.)

Hurricane Joaquin current position:
24.3N 73.1W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 225 DEGREES AT 7 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 967 MB EYE DIAMETER 45 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 75 KT WITH GUSTS TO 90 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0600Z
24.0N 73.8W
MAX WIND 85 KT...GUSTS 105 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1800Z
23.9N 74.5W
MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0600Z
24.5N 75.0W
MAX WIND 95 KT...GUSTS 115 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/1800Z
25.8N 75.0W
MAX WIND 100 KT...GUSTS 120 KT.



--- As of 11pm Wed Evening (0300z Thr Oct 1, 2015):
This was approx. 24 hours after departure. (and near the time, they had propulsion issues)Notice the rapid strengthening in the past 6 - 9 hours, and the forecasts for even further increased strengthening in the next 12 hours!If they had propulsion / maneuvering issues now, and had a 15* list, and had already had flooding...this was the point where things spiraled out-of-control of the ship's crew, and they were probably (hopefully!) were preparing for disaster...

Hurricane Joaquin current position:
23.8N 73.1W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 220 DEGREES AT 5 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 951 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 100 KT WITH GUSTS TO 120 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1200Z
23.5N 73.8W
MAX WIND 110 KT...GUSTS 135 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0000Z
23.6N 74.5W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/1200Z
24.7N 74.8W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.


--- As of 5am Thr morning (0900z Thr Oct 1, 2015), (before their distress call):
Hurricane Joaquin current position:
23.4N 73.7W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-SOUTHWEST OR 240 DEGREES AT 4 KT ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 948 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 105 KT WITH GUSTS TO 130 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/1800Z 2
3.1N 74.2W
MAX WIND 115 KT...GUSTS 140 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0600Z
23.4N 74.8W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT. .

FORECAST VALID 02/1800Z
25.0N 74.8W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT


--- As of 11am Thr morning (1500z Thr Oct 1, 2015), (after their distress call):
Hurricane Joaquin current position:
23.0N 73.9W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 220 DEGREES AT 5 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 942 MB EYE DIAMETER 30 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 110 KT WITH GUSTS TO 135 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0000Z
22.9N 74.2W
MAX WIND 115 KT...GUSTS 140 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/1200Z
23.7N 74.6W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.

FORECAST VALID 03/0000Z
25.2N 74.4W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.


--- As of 5pm Thr afternoon (2100z Thr Oct 1, 2015), (many hours after their distress call):
Hurricane Joaquin current position:
23.0N 74.4W
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST OR 235 DEGREES AT 5 KT
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 936 MB EYE DIAMETER 25 NM
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 115 KT WITH GUSTS TO 140 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/0600Z
23.2N 74.7W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.

FORECAST VALID 02/1800Z
24.4N 74.7W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.

FORECAST VALID 03/0600Z
25.9N 74.1W
MAX WIND 120 KT...GUSTS 145 KT.


{I've included a couple of Joaquin's positions / forecasts, after El Fero's distress call, so that everyone can see what the USCG and USAF were flying in while also looking for this vessel!}


Using my almost 50 years of experience with boating/sailing, including some 40+ years on/off sailing offshore, and my passion for weather, etc., I cannot wrap my head around the decision making done by the El Faro's captain??
Notwithstanding my caveat right upfront, regarding merchant vessels needing to sail to meet their schedules, and the initial forecasts being much different than those when en route, this decision making just doesn't make sense to me...

Any merchant skippers here, please enlighten me!
Thanks!


Fair winds to all...

John
That post is so long.

If you could summarize the forecasts and position of el faro that would help us understand events preceeding the loss.

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Old 07-10-2015, 15:35   #36
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

I guess the only point I would like to make is some owners don't seem to value the lives of their crews. Schedules are tight and safety equipment is in many cases the bare minimum for certification. In the case of SS El Faro (it is my understanding this is a steam ship, not diesel) the open life boats as high on the super structure as they were meets requirements but certainly doesn't offer the all sea state conditions of deployment as free fall enclosed life boat capsules. If these souls are lost at sea, it is maddening that the simple added investment of better emergency egress would have saved their lives. I have done more lifeboat drills than I can remember, and for the older style gravity systems there was a good reason these drills only occurred on calm days.

When sea state is overwhelming and you have lost propulsion and need to abandon ship, do you want this.....


Or this....
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:08   #37
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Free fall life boats have been around for a long time now. There is no reason that any ship should be without them.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:17   #38
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

in Nov. '96 i think it was, we were heading from Edinburgh to Glasgow on a Naval exercise in a 3300brt supply ship.
weather in that area for that time of the year can be challenging and we monitored the forecast (was my main duty as Navigator)
we passed the Pentland Firth in pristine weather conditions and did some excersise supply runs with the fleet in the Atlantic as long as the conditions allowed before the next North-Wester started coming up.
We proceeded down into The Minch to weather the storm in Lee of the Outer Hebrides, but we could not get through the Sound of Shiant in time and by the 2nd day the Wind had turned more North than expected and the sea rapidly built up to 40ft and forced us to take it head on to not go into a lee shore.
We rode out the storm for 2 days with about 50% of the crew heavily seasick and those still able to do their watch on overtime (i spent most of the time on the bridge and slept in my chart room in between)
we finished the exercise as planned but went right into dry dock back home to fix the storm damage .

we knew the storm was coming, we monitored it all the way it approached and it still caught us off guard in a spot that turned from safe to bad over night.
we had 2 open cutters and ample liferafts for the crew of 100 sailors and were lucky that we did not need them.
If we had encountered engine damage or a leak causing a 15 heel, i'm not sure i'd be here to write that story today.


in '97 we were on our way from Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai when in approach of Taiwan a Typhoon came in from the Pacific.
We requested a clearance to go through the Strait of Taiwan (in a Naval Vessel, through Chinese Waters, in '97, even though we were heading for a Chinese port, that area is a nogo-area even today)
but the Typhoon decided to stay out on the Pacific and in the end we only got some nice swell and a stiff breeze of 40knts.

when you go out there on a schedule or on duty, you prepare for what you can handle and to stay out of the worst.
a storm brewing up 1000 miles away is a reason to be cautious but it can not stop you from going out when there are 'safe' ways around the worst that cost less delay than staying in port for days. you are expected to plot that route around the worst.
that was the question of the OP and i hope i shed some light onto this
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:20   #39
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Free fall life boats have been around for a long time now. There is no reason that any ship should be without them.
Of course there is a reason. The elephant in the room -- cost. And there's nothing ignoble about that -- that is just a practical reality of life.

El Faro was scheduled to be replaced by a new ship which has already been launched. Shipping is a capital intensive, tough business. No shipping company could ever survive which automatically bought every possible safety device at every moment.

Lifeboats are used extremely seldomly. These lifeboats fulfilled regulations and were kept maintained and were used in regular drills. El Faro was SOLAS certified, which is a higher level of safety than required for a Jones Act vessel.

That's more than I can say for what I have on my boat. My lifejackets were all recertified this year, but both of my life rafts are out of certification, one by years (will be scrapped and replaced this winter) and one by one year. It's just the reality of trying to keep a vessel running without going bankrupt.
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Old 07-10-2015, 17:11   #40
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

A couple days before the ship was in trouble, I was looking at the predicted track of the hurricane. At that time it was predicted to be outside of the Bahamas. The decision to go out into hurricane was foolish to begin with, but the inside passage between Florida and the Bahamas looked to be open. Too close to a hurricane, but open. That track would only be a little out of the way. The schools I went to taught to keep out of the right front quadrant and don't cross the track. Both look (by me) were ignored by the captain. His course was almost a direct opposite of the hurricane. Also, in my day, mariners were taught observations (of clouds, winds, seas and barometer) that can predict range, distance, and track of the hurricane without shore communication.
My experience on ships is mostly the Pacific, but I did transit that area a few times (30 years ago) and we went between Florida and the Bahamas. Not on the outside. I don't know if there are ship traffic restrictions in place now.
The lessons of the Titanic (unsinkable ship) are still valid today. This ranks with the Bounty captain in my mind. Why go looking for trouble.
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:15   #41
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

I read something about an inclination of 15 degree, incapacitated engine and taking water.. for a portacontainer like that, there are not too much options and less if in the middle of a hurricane..
Seems like the boat disappear under the water fast... I cannot comment about captain decision.. it's easy judge with the newspaper and sitting at starbuck... I really and deeply feel sorry for the families...
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:35   #42
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Your story serves to illustrate further that sh*t happens at sea, and in my experience the more one pushes to keep to a schedule, and the more the weather conditions become challenging and uncertain, the heavier and more stinky that sh*t becomes.
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:46   #43
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

This tragedy is all too reminiscent of the loss of the Fantome in Hurricane Mitch 26 (?) years ago [for those not familiar, google it or better yet, read Jim Carrier's book - "The Ship and the Storm"]. While I'm not a commercial nor any kind of professional mariner (save a couple of 30 year old ASA instructor certifications), 50 or so years as a sailor has taught me a few things:
- Weather is predictably unpredictable, and deserves an extraordinary degree of respect at sea. The prudent mariner makes plans and alters them as new information becomes evident.
- Allowing the pressure of a timetable to influence decisions invites the wrath of the Gods. Sticking with the plan no matter what is a form of hubris, and Neptune deals harshly with it (ask Odysseus).
- Nothing mechanical can be regarded as dependable at sea, particularly when the weather deteriorates. Without redundancy, even redundant redundancy, of critical systems, disaster is invited.

This is tragic, and I understand the dissatisfaction with those of us sitting in our comfortable chairs dissecting the decisions that were made by professionals with probably more experience and information than both of us. But there are valuable lessons to be learned for many of us, and this discussion could save lives. I hope so....
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:50   #44
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

And, one other thought. Given the hazard posed to other vessels, and the number of documented disasters of which I'm sure many of us are aware, does anyone else thing that it is irresponsible of a captain and an owner of a container ship to take such a vessel into a storm where loss overboard of containers has (perhaps greatly) heightened risks? Even if the storm seemingly poses little risk to the ship and its crew, what about the risks lost containers pose to anyone else, especially those in smaller vessels, at sea?

Because of this, it is quite possible that the toll of this incident may not yet be complete....
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:55   #45
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

It IS hard to believe there has been no EPIRB or AIS beacon signal received. On our little boat (44') we have at least 2 EPIRBs, and AIS beacons on our deckvests that are designed to activate automatically with their (also automatic) inflation when immersed.

Do such large ships and their crew not have a similar level of safety gear? Or can someone explain how and why NONE of it would be deployed / activated?
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