El Faro sister ship docked in path of Hurricane Irma Monday night

Family members of El Faro members are concerned about Irma and want ships and crews to learn after Joaquin.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's been nearly two years since the El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin.
    
There's been much debate about who's at fault for the tragedy that claimed the lives of 33 crew members.
     
On Monday,as the First Coast prepared for Hurricane Irma, we learned the El Faro's sister ship, the El Yunque, was docked in Puerto Rico, in the path of Hurricane Irma's path.
     
We reached out to Tote Maritime about the El Yunque's planned course.

They sent us this statement:

"Our Captains have control and authority to alter course for any purpose, weather, crew illness, or to assist another ship at sea. Our crews are trained to deal with unfolding weather situations and are prepared to respond to emerging situations while at sea. In the matter of TOTE's ships sailing ahead of Hurricane Irma, the Coast Guard issued port advisories for Puerto Rico and various Florida ports stating that all ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans to depart the port. TOTE Services has great confidence in its highly experienced officers and they are currently adjusting their sailing schedules accordingly."

TOTE released a second statement to inform First Coast News they have sold the El Yunque:

"I am writing in regards to your story from yesterday about the El Faro’s sister ship, El Yunque, being in Puerto Rico ahead of the storm.  The El Yunque was retired last year, sold for recycling and cutup.  It is not in Puerto Rico." 

However, the wife of one of the crew members on board the El Faro crews being out to sea during dangerous storms leaves them with little protection.

"What is it going to take for us to really take these storms seriously," Rochelle Hamm said.

Rochelle Hamm's husband, Frank, was one of 33 crew members onboard the El Faro when it sank in October 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin.

The cargo ship was bound for Puerto Rico. The ship was later found 15,000 feet below the sea.

"The ship did not go on vacation. They went to work and never returned home from work," Hamm said.

Hamm refuses to let the lives of the El Faro crew to be in vain. She launched an initiative to change the culture of the industry

"I want to make sure this tragedy doesn't happen anymore," Hamm said.

It's is called The Hamm Alert. The legislation would require third party approval for commercial vessels to sail into a storm and require the vessels to have Coast Guard approved lifeboats with survival supplies.

"All I can think about is my husband and the crew out there on that water," Hamm added.  

Hamm started a petition on the Hamm Alert to present to congress. Click here to sign.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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