Investigators Recover El Faro Data Recorder

COURTESY OF THE NTSB El Faro voyage data recorder in fresh water on the USNS Apache

El Faro voyage data recorder in fresh water on the USNS Apache

WOODS HOLE – The voyage data recorder from El Faro, a U.S. cargo ship that sank during Hurricane Joaquin last October, was successfully recovered from the ocean floor last night, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

All 33 crew members aboard the ship were killed including Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduates Keith Griffin, 33, and Jeffrey Mathias, 44.

Investigators have spent 10 months trying to retrieve the recorder, which records navigational data and communications between crewmembers on the ship’s bridge.

The recorder could reveal information about the final hours of the ship’s voyage and the circumstances leading up to the sinking.

“The recovery of the recorder has the potential to give our investigators greater insight into the incredible challenges that the El Faro crew faced,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart, “but it’s just one component of a very complex investigation. There is still a great deal of work to be done in order to understand how the many factors converged that led to the sinking and the tragic loss of 33 lives.”

The data recorder was located in April at a depth of 15,000 feet using technology made on Cape Cod.

The recorder was located by the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry, which was designed and built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The voyage data recorder will be examined while at sea by NTSB investigators aboard the USNS Apache, to assess the condition of the device and to ensure proper preservation and further examination.

NTSB officials said that no further missions to the accident site are planned unless warranted as the investigation continues.

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