The Coast Guard was searching for a 735-foot cargo ship with 33 crew aboard after an emergency satellite message was received from the vessel saying it was caught in the path of Hurricane Joaquin.
Authorities received the notification from the “roll-on, roll-off” El Faro early Thursday, stating that it was in storm conditions near Crooked Island, Bahamas, had lost propulsion and was listing 15 degrees, according to News 4 Jax. The television station reports that: “The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.”
The website gCaptain.com reports:
“The Coast Guard has launched an HC-130 aircrew out of Clearwater, Florida to search for the El Faro and its crew. Coast Guard watchstanders and rescue crews have so far been unable to reestablish communications with the El Faro crew, the Coast Guard reported Friday morning.
“Two Air Force C-130 Hurricane Hunter aircrews have also attempted to locate and reestablish communications with the El Faro but so far any attempts have been unsuccessful. Coast Guard crews remain on scene and are continuing search efforts Friday by both air and sea.”
Authorities said they had been unable to make contact with the vessel. Marinetraffic.com says that the vessel, en route from Jacksonville, Fla., should have made its destination of San Juan, Puerto Rico, by about 1 a.m. local time.
The ship is operated by TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico. The company’s president, Tim Nolan, issued a statement saying the El Faro had departed Jacksonville on Sept. 29:
“At the time of the El Faro’s departure, the vessel’s officers and crew were monitoring what was then Tropical Storm Joaquin,” Nolan said.
“As of 720am EST on Thursday October 1, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico lost all communication with the El Faro. The US Coast Guard was immediately notified and since then we have been unable to reestablish communication,” the statement read.
“There are a number of possible reasons for the loss of communications among them the increasing severity of Hurricane Joaquin,” it said.