NTSB Hoping to Retrieve Data Recorder from Sunken Cargo Boat

PHOTO COUTESY : MASSACHUSETTS MARITIME ACADEMY Photo of Keith Griffin, 33, a 2005 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay. Griffin is among 33 crew members on board a cargo ship that went missing off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin

PHOTO COUTESY : MASSACHUSETTS MARITIME ACADEMY
Photo of Keith Griffin, 33, a 2005 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay. Griffin is among 33 crew members on board a cargo ship that went missing off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin

HYANNIS – The National Transportation Safety Board says it will try to retrieve the data recorder from 15,000 feet deep to learn why a cargo ship sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin.

The safety investigation began as the Coast Guard continues to search for any of the 33 onboard that may have survived when container ship El Faro became disabled in the storm. Officials have said they found one body in a survival suit.

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.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said late Tuesday that she hopes the ship can be found so investigators can access the voyage data recorder.

Dinh-Zarr says the VDR begins pinging when it gets wet and has a 30-day battery life.

Investigators are focusing on the communications between the captain and the vessel’s owner and may further explore whether the five workers whose job was to prepare the engine room for a retrofitting had any role in the boat’s loss of power.

Officials from the company that owns the vessel, Tote Inc., say they don’t believe so. but the question — along with the captain’s decision to plot a course near the storm — will help investigators figure out why the boat apparently sank near the Bahamas, possibly claiming the lives of all 33 aboard.

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