JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The second week of El Faro hearings started with more testimony about the ship’s stability and cargo security on Monday.
The container ship capsized during Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1 of last year. The Coast Guard Marine Board investigating is working to determine if commercial pressure, negligence in cargo security or even a poor safety culture played a role in the ship’s final, doomed voyage.
Monday’s testimony was very slow and highly technical. One family member, apparently frustrated by the process, said that it’s clear to her a lot of people are getting paid to know nothing.
The focus was CargoMax, a software program used to calculate load and stability; during testimony, the investigation board learned that ABS, which the Coast Guard hired to certify El Faro owns 50 percent interest in Herbert Engineering, the company that develops the cargo loading problem that they were certifying.
Company officials denied there was any conflict.
Further testimony disclosed that they loading requirements in El Faro’s manual had little change since 2005. So, the question became, was the captain able to make the right calculations for stability and for wind effects?
Maritime attorney Rod Sullivan is following the hearings closely and spoke to First Coast News.
“When the ship was lengthened in 2005 and the draft was increased that reduced the reserved stability of the ship from 8 feet to 3 and a half feet so the ship became substantially less stable,” he said. “I’m not saying it was unstable, but it was certainly less stable as a ro/con than it was a ro/ro.”
Testimony showed that TOTE Maritime, the company that owned the El Faro, was very active in the cargo handling.
The Marine Board of Investigation is expected to hear from the team who loaded El Faro prior to her departure from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.
The hearing will resume Tuesday morning at the Prime Osborn Convention Center
Testimony revealed TOTE was very active in the cargo handling. The marine board of investigation is expected to hear from the stevedore team who loaded El Faro prior to her departure from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.
The hearing continues tomorrow at the prime Osborn convention center.