El Faro crew didn't believe they had accurate weather data

by: Action News Jax Updated:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The National Transportation Safety Board revealed Tuesday what was happening inside El Faro’s bridge during its final moments.

It’s the single most anticipated piece of evidence that families have been waiting more than a year to see.

The news conference Tuesday morning was only factual information. The NTSB didn't provide analysis or findings. 


Action News Jax reporter Lorena Inclan is in Washington, D.C. covering the story. Watch Action News Jax and follow her on Twitter @LorenaANJax for the latest. 


The chairman of the NTSB, along with other officials, revealed the transcription of the audio in the ship’s voyage data recorder and five factual reports were added to the public docket. It was no easy task taking them more than four months to decipher and record all the words that were said, but it was a necessary step toward understanding why the ship sank in 2015 during Hurricane Joaquin.

The device was recovered on Aug. 8, 2016 in 15,000 feet of water after three attempts. 

VDR transcript longest ever recorded

The VDR transcript required 1,100 hours of work to complete. NTSB determined 10 hours of audio captured on the VDR were pertinent to the investigation.

CBS News reports that the El Faro bridge audio recording began about 5:37 a.m. Sept 30, 2015, roughly 8 hours after ship left Jacksonville, Florida. It ended around 7:40 a.m. Oct. 1.

There is in total, 1 minute and 10.4 seconds of audio that was not recorded.

The VDR transcript is the longest recorded by the NTSB with about 500 pages. There were some crew statements that were reviewed more than 100 times, officials said. 

The NTSB said the El Faro video audio quality is "poor," after they initially characterized it as "good."  

El Faro audio transcript summary

There were nine crew members heard on the recordings, officials said. The crew was heard voicing concerns about the cargo shifting. 

The bridge audio showed that the crew didn't believe they had accurate wind data and the anemometer did not record accurate data. The captain can also be heard talking about conflicting weather data. 

The captain ignored a request to change course at least once. 

The captain made the call to ring general alarm at 7:27 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2015. The second mate reported at 7:29 a.m. that containers were in the water. The call at 7:31 a.m. was to abandon ship. 

The NTSB confirms a call from the captain to put lifeboats in the water was heard.

The final moments of the VDR transcript shows the captain trying to get a crew member to move, "Don't freeze up ... I'm not leaving you." 

The captain and a helmsman were still on board when the recording ended. 

CBS News reported that earlier in the transcript, the captain is shown as saying “We’ll be about sixty miles south of the eye. It should be fine. We are gonna be fine– not should be– we are gonna be fine.”

The exact cause of the sinking, CBS News writes, is still to be determined by the NTSB.

The recording ended at the time the ship sank. 


Related Link: Trascript of El Faro's Voyage Data Recorder



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