Hearings Attempt to Solve Mysteries of El Faro Sinking 

PHOTO COURTESY: National Transportation Safety Board. New Photo of the El Faro freighter that sank in a hurricane.

PHOTO COURTESY: National Transportation Safety Board. New Photo of the El Faro freighter that sank in a hurricane.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A series of U.S. Coast Guard hearings will seek answers about why the 790-foot freighter El Faro sank near the Bahamas last fall, killing all 33 crew members in the worst U.S. commercial maritime disaster in decades.

The hearings opened Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida as authorities address many questions, chief among them whether misconduct, negligence or shoddy safety inspections contributed to the El Faro’s demise.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduates Keith Griffin, 33, and Jeffrey Mathias, 44, were among the crew.

Griffin was a native of Winthrop and graduated from the Academy in 2005. Mathias was from Kingston and graduated in 1996.

The freighter set sail from Jacksonville on Sept. 29 en route to Puerto Rico as a powerful storm that became Hurricane Joaquin churned offshore. The ship’s captain attempted to outrun the storm, but lost engine power and control of the ship.

The storm overtook the aged vessel last Oct. 1; the wreckage was later found at 15,000 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean, near the Bahamas.

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