NTSB issues safety recommendations ahead of final El Faro report

by: Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV Updated:

While their larger investigation of the El Faro sinking is still ongoing, the NTSB has issued ten new safety recommendations as a result of their work so far.

“We are getting these recommendations out as the hurricane season begins so that the work on these safety improvements can start immediately,” says a statement from NTSB Acting Chairman Robert L Sumwalt.

The goal of the recommendations is to improve the accuracy of hurricane and tropical cyclone forecasts and to make them more accessible at sea. Improving weather forecasting methods and increasing the frequency of certain advisories are among the recommendations.

FULL COVERAGE: The sinking of El Faro
The recommendations have been issued to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, and the US Coast Guard, with the NTSB urging the organizations to adopt them.

The NTSB acknowledges that, generally, safety recommendations are issued at the end of an investigation, but can be put out at any time. The Board has been investigating the sinking of El Faro since late 2015, which included participating in three Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation public hearing sessions as well as producing the longest transcript of a Voyage Data Recorder that the NTSB has ever completed.

33 people died when the cargo ship out of Jacksonville sank in Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. The investigation so far has shown the vessel had some outdated weather information in the hours ahead of the sinking, and that the forecasting errors on Hurricane Joaquin itself were more significant than normal. The VDR transcript shows the crew working to restore propulsion and try to correct a list on board after an intake of water, but the Captain ultimately called to abandon ship.

None of the crew were ever recovered.

The NTSB expects to complete their investigation of the sinking later this year, which will include a finding of probable cause and contributing factors to the sinking. The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation will also issue its own separate report.

WOKV is working through the new recommendations. This is a developing story that will be updated through the day.

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