Cargo shift 'probable' during El Faro's final voyage, according to independent review

by: Lorena Inclan, Action News Jax Updated:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Heavier cargo may have not been properly secured aboard El Faro, according to a review done by the National Cargo Bureau.

The NCB was asked by the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct an independent review of the ship’s cargo-securing manual.

The manual was prepared by Herbert Engineering and approved by the American Bureau of Shipping in 2006. NCB reviewed it for content according to international cargo-stowage securing guidelines.

The NCB also analyzed photos of cargo lashing aboard El Yunque, El Faro’s sister ship, to make determinations.


Captains Phil Anderson and Edward Walker Jr. presented their findings before the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation Wednesday.

“We believe that it is probable that there was a cargo shift,” said Anderson. “In the event of any cargo shift, a domino effect would likely result in progressive lashing failure.”



While they weren’t able to determine breaking or failure points “due to insufficient information,” they did provide observations after viewing photos of El Yunque’s cargo, saying that there may be “a tendency towards lashing not being properly applied at times.”

“I questioned perhaps the amount of training people may have had in the use of the cargo securing manual,” said Anderson.

Anderson pointed to some cargo not being secured according to the 45-degree angle needed for the lashing device.

Overall, Anderson said the cargo securing manual had some errors and inconsistencies and was confusing, but that it’s no different than others he’s seen in the industry.

“Very rare to see perfection in a technical document of this type and size,” said Anderson.

Anderson said based on their evaluation, if cargo shift occurred the way they believe, it may have either contributed to the sinking or occurred as a result of it.

“We cannot make that determination,” said Anderson.

Both Anderson and Walker are scheduled back on Thursday to continue being questioned.

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