WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today asked the head of the federal agency investigating the loss of the cargo ship El Faro to conduct another search for the ship’s missing data recorder.
Nelson made the request in a letter sent today to the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Christopher Hart.
“It is critical that we determine the cause of the El Faro sinking to prevent tragedies like this from happening again,” Nelson wrote. “I urge you to strongly consider another search to locate the missing recorder.”
The cargo ship El Faro sank on Oct. 1, 2015 while en route from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. Investigators located the ship’s wreckage near the Bahamas in early November but were unable to locate the ship’s data recorder, eventually calling off the search two weeks later.
Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the NTSB, met with investigators back in October and asked that they include in their investigation of the shipping accident a review of the shipping company’s policies for sailing in severe weather.
Following is the text of Nelson’s letter to the NTSB:
January 14, 2016
The Honorable Christopher Hart
National Transportation Safety Board
490 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20594
Dear Chairman Hart:
It is critical that we determine the cause of the El Faro sinking to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. To assist in this endeavor, I urge you to take every step possible to recover the missing voyage data recorder.
On Tuesday, September 29th, the container ship El Faro left Jacksonville, Florida en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a distress call two days later, El Faro reported that it had lost propulsion, was listing and had taken on water. The NTSB launched an initial search to locate the ship, document the wreckage and recover the voyage data recorder. Unfortunately, the NTSB was unable to recover the voyage data recorder.
While I have faith in your ability to complete this investigation with the information you have gathered, it is important to ensure the most complete investigation possible. I urge you to strongly consider another search to locate the missing recorder.