Coast Guard to hold public hearing on El Faro sinking

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a public Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the loss of the United States-flagged steam ship El Faro and its 33 crewmembers. The first hearing session will focus on the pre-accident historical events relating to the loss, the regulatory compliance record of El Faro, crewmember duties and qualifications, past operations of the vessel and the Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue operations. During a later hearing session (date to be determined) the accident voyage, including cargo loading, weather conditions and navigation will be examined in detail. The National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted its own investigation, will fully participate in the Marine Board of Investigation hearings.

What: Marine Casualty Board of Investigation
When: Daily 9 a.m. to  4 p.m. ET – Tuesday, Feb. 16 to Friday, Feb. 26
Where: Prime F. Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St., Jacksonville, Fla.

The investigation will determine as closely as possible:

• The factors that contributed to the accident;
• Whether there is evidence that any act of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law on the part of any licensed or certificated person contributed to the casualty; and
• Whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or any representative or employee of any other government agency or any other person caused or contributed to the casualty.

Ground rules for the El Faro hearing are:

Reporters may attend open sessions of the Marine Board, as may members of the public as long as they do not detract from the decorum of the proceedings or inhibit a witness' willingness to testify. The Coast Guard's policy is to permit expanded media coverage of marine casualty investigations, therefore audio and video recordings are authorized.

By Professional Mariner Staff