TOTE attorney says independent report on cargo lashing was developed in 'factual vacuum'

by: Lorena Inclan, Action News Jax Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Things got tense inside Thursday’s Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation hearing into the October 2015 sinking of El Faro.

The hearings felt much like a trial, as attorneys for parties involved took center stage.

Captains Phil Anderson and Edward Walker Jr., of the National Cargo Bureau, were called back to finish their testimony.

On Wednesday, they presented a report conducted at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board that reviewed how cargo may have been secured aboard El Faro.

Their report concluded that cargo shift was “probable” on the El Faro's final voyage.

But Thursday, TOTE Incorporated attorney Jeff King tried to poke holes into their study.


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“We are here at an MBI to look at the actual events surrounding the loss on October 1 so wouldn’t you agree that the actual facts, as they existed that day, would be important to your testimony?” asked King.

King pointed out that they didn’t review potentially relevant information, such as previous testimony from stevedores who actually secured the cargo, or even the weather data.

But Anderson pushed back, saying his questions went beyond the scope of what they were asked to review.

“All I can go by is what we were asked to do. What we were asked to do is contained in the report and was contained in the presentation yesterday. Whether that is the right thing would be pure conjecture,” said Anderson.

On Wednesday, Anderson said they did not set out to determine wind speed, or other weather factors.

But King characterized their testimony as being developed in a “factual vacuum” based on assumptions and limited facts.

The hearing will reconvene Friday at 9 a.m. at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.


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