NTSB releases addendum to El Faro VDR transcript

El Faro Wreck

The following is the text of a news release from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

(WASHINGTON) — In its ongoing investigation of the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, the NTSB is adding additional material to the accident docket.

Two items related to the El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR) transcript were added Wednesday — an addendum and an errata sheet.  

The four-page addendum details additional information not included in the previously released VDR transcript. The VDR was initially analyzed and transcribed in the fall of 2016 by NTSB investigators working with representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard and the owner and operator of El Faro, Tote Services. As mentioned in the Dec. 13, 2016, release of the VDR transcript, the overall quality of the audio recording was characterized as “poor” and even with extensive digital filtering — to enhance the audio and reduce the high levels of background noise — not every word or phrase could be determined in the initial analysis.

Since the release of the transcript in December 2016, NTSB investigators continued to gather facts and analyze information, which led to additional listening sessions of the VDR. These sessions resulted in some additional dialogue being transcribed because the information was determined to be relevant to the investigation.

The five-page errata sheet is a list of grammar, usage and terminology edits to the previously released VDR transcript to enhance accuracy. 

The complete 511-page updated VDR transcript, which includes all of the additions referenced above, is included as an attachment to the addendum.

The human performance factual report and the wreckage trajectory study are scheduled to be added to the docket Aug. 18.

The Human Performance Group Factual Report includes information about company oversight, decision-making, crew interactions, and training and procedures.

The Wreckage Trajectory Study includes information about the calculations done to determine the search areas on the sea floor, which was critical to the successful recovery of the El Faro VDR.

Two more factual reports, nautical operations and naval architecture, will be added in the coming weeks.

The Nautical Operations Group Factual Report includes information about the function and maintenance of bridge equipment, job duties of deck officers and crew, and how the different types of cargo were stowed and secured.

The Naval Architecture Factual Report will include information on El Faro’s design, relevant standards, and stability.

Although the majority of the material developed during the course of this investigation is now in the docket, additional documents may be added to it as the investigation continues.

Links to the docket, related news releases, photos and other material are all available on the El Faro accident investigation page:  https://go.usa.gov/xRydQ

By Professional Mariner Staff