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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is providing the following information to urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS; a component of NOAA), and the US Coast Guard to take action on the safety recommendations in this report. The recommendations address, in the interest of mariner safety, the development of tropical cyclone information and its availability to mariners. The recommendations derive primarily from factual information gathered during the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the sinking of cargo vessel El Faro on October 1, 2015. The factual data revealed that critical tropical cyclone information issued by the NWS is not always available to mariners via well-established broadcast methods. The data also suggest that modifying the way the NWS develops certain tropical cyclone forecasts and advisories could help mariners at sea better understand and respond to tropical cyclones. Further, factual data on the official forecasts for Hurricane Joaquin and other recent tropical cyclones suggest that a new emphasis on improving hurricane forecasts is warranted. The NTSB has yet to determine the probable cause of, or contributing factors in, El Faro’s sinking. Nevertheless, based on the meteorological facts gathered thus far, plus discussions with the NWS and the Coast Guard, the NTSB makes ten recommendations in this report. Two recommendations are addressed to NOAA, seven to the NWS, and one to the Coast Guard.
TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: In collaboration with the National Weather Service, provide timely broadcasts of the Tropical Cyclone Forecast/Advisories, Intermediate Public Advisories, and Tropical Cyclone Updates to mariners in all regions via medium-frequency navigational TELEX (NAVTEX), high-frequency voice broadcasts (HF VOBRA), and high-frequency simplex teletype over radio (HF SITOR), or appropriate radio alternatives (and appropriate future technology).
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
36 NM Northeast Crooked Island Bahamas, AO, United States
Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners
Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS
Atlantic Ocean, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, Bahamas
Sinking of the US Cargo Vessel
: Illustrated Digest
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
LETTER TO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: We note that the NWS has increased its support of the USCG’s efforts to improve the dissemination of information regarding oceanic hazards. Although this recommendation is addressed to the USCG, we are encouraged by the NWS’s proactive efforts to address this important safety issue.
-From Andrew Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast, and Support Office, NOAA/ National Weather Service: I would like to bring to your attention increased support that NWS is providing to the U.S. Coast Guard with respect to improving dissemination of hazards in the oceanic domain. Starting last week, the NWS Ocean Prediction Center, in coordination with the National Hurricane Center and the NWS National Operations Center began providing weekly PPT briefings to USCG District 5. Note in the attached Memo from OPC to the NWS Chief Operating Officer that the actions fully support safety recommendations from the NTSB El Faro report. The second attached file, called "Briefing Slides.pdf", contains briefing slides from last week. The first two slides were presented to the USCG on July 9 and highlighted hazards associated with cyclones Chris and Beryl. The 3rd and 4th slides show updates to NWS leadership regarding oceanic impacts from Hurricane Chris. Slide 3 shows AIS data and ship avoidance maneuvers in advance of Chris - leaving a mostly ship free northeastward slot. Slide 4 shows a tanker who appeared to move close to or through the eye wall. OPC later reported that the tanker turned northwest and headed toward the NY Bight once the storm had passed. The NWS continues to improve decision support services with our core partners in support of transportation safety. Thought that you would be interested.
We note that you plan to collaborate with the National Weather Service and review high frequency broadcast procedures to provide timely broadcasts about tropical forecasts, advisories, and updates. We also note the national and international efforts in which you are participating to develop additional methods to disseminate marine safety information to mariners. Pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendation M-17-17 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Charles W. Ray, Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Deputy Commandant for Operations: I concur with this recommendation. The Coast Guard will collaborate with the National Weather Service and review HF broadcast procedures to provide timely broadcasts of tropical forecasts, advisories, and updates. The Coast Guard is participating in national and international efforts to develop additional methods for disseminating marine safety information (MSI) to mariners. These initiatives include displaying notifications of MSI on the mariner's electronic chart, use of Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology to transmit MSI, and providing broadcast notice to mariners over the Internet. In addition, the Coast Guard is also participating on a Department of Defense/industry workgroup developing the latest high frequency technologies and standards that will allow for the distribution of larger amounts of information at higher data rates. We will keep the Board informed of our progress on this recommendation.
On June 20, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its safety recommendation report Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners, related to the October 1, 2015, sinking of cargo vessel El Faro. Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the safety recommendation report, which can be accessed at our website, www.ntsb.gov, under report number NTSB/MSR-17/02. As a result of this investigation, we issued seven recommendations to the National Weather Service, two recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the following recommendation to the US Coast Guard.
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