JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The captain of the 790-foot El Faro planned to bypass Hurricane Joaquin, but some kind of mechanical failure left the U.S. container ship with 33 people aboard helplessly adrift in the path of the powerful storm, the vessel’s owners say.
On Monday, four days after the ship vanished, the Coast Guard concluded it sank near the Bahamas in about 15,000 feet of water. One unidentified body in a survival suit was recovered, and the search went on for any trace of the other crew members.
Survival suits help mariners float and stay warm. But even with the water temperature at 85 degrees, hypothermia can set in quickly, Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said. He noted that the hurricane had winds of about 140 mph and waves topping 50 feet. The ship had 28 crew members from the U.S. and five from Poland.
Coast Guard and Navy planes, helicopters, cutters and tugboats searched across a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. “We are still looking for survivors or any sign of life,” Fedor said.