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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-17-044
Details
Synopsis: On Thursday, October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro, a 40-year-old cargo ship owned by TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico and operated by TOTE Services, Inc., was on a regular route from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, when it foundered and sank in the Atlantic Ocean about 40 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, Bahamas. The ship had sailed directly into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, carrying a crew of 33, including 5 Polish contract repair workers. All those aboard perished in the sinking. As part of its accident investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) led a joint effort with the US Navy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the National Science Foundation to locate the ship’s wreckage and retrieve its voyage data recorder (VDR). The VDR was pulled from 15,250 feet below the ocean surface in August 2016 during the third undersea mission and yielded more than 26 hours of parametric data and audio files. The NTSB’s accident investigation identified the following safety issues: captain’s actions, use of noncurrent weather information, late decision to muster the crew, ineffective bridge resource management, inadequate company oversight, company’s safety management system, flooding in cargo holds, loss of propulsion, downflooding through ventilation closures, need for damage control plan, and lack of appropriate survival craft. The NTSB made safety recommendations to the US Coast Guard; the Federal Communications Commission; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the International Association of Classification Societies; the American Bureau of Shipping; Furuno Electric Company, Ltd.; and TOTE Services, Inc.
Recommendation: TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: To prevent future errors in converting position data such as occurred in the El Faro accident, work with manufacturers of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System equipment, communication providers, and land earth stations to remove ambiguity from the Inmarsat-C distress alert position reports.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Marine
Location: 36 NM Northeast Crooked Island Bahamas, AO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA16MM001
Accident Reports: Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS El Faro Atlantic Ocean, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, BahamasSinking of the US Cargo Vessel El Faro: Illustrated Digest
Report #: MAR-17-01
Accident Date: 10/1/2015
Issue Date: 2/7/2018
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: USCG (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 4/30/2019
Response: We note that in the short term, you are updating your search-and-rescue (SAR) watchstander guidance to include information about variations in Inmarsat-C distress alert position reports. As a long-term solution, you are working with satellite communications and shipboard electronics manufacturers and international regulatory authorities to use the reporting standard in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual for all shipboard equipment distress alert position reports. Pending completion of these activities, Safety Recommendation M-17-44 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: USCG
To: NTSB
Date: 7/17/2018
Response: -From Karl L. Schultz, Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commandant: I concur with this recommendation. In the short-term, the Coast Guard is updating its Search and Rescue (SAR) Watchstander Guidance to include information about variations in Inmarsat-C distress alert position reports. For the long-term solution, the Coast Guard is working with the satellite communications and shipboard electronics manufacturing industries, as well as international regulatory authorities to standardize all shipboard equipment distress alert position reports. The recommended standard for distress alert position reporting presented in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual aligns with the current IEC and ITU format requirements for navigation and position reporting. I will keep the Board informed of the Coast Guard's action on this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: USCG
Date: 2/7/2018
Response: On December 12, 2017, the NTSB adopted its report Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS El Faro, Atlantic Ocean, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, Bahamas, October 1, 2015, NTSB/MAR-17/01. The details of this accident investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at http://www.ntsb.gov. Among the safety recommendations are 29 issued to the US Coast Guard, which can be found on pages 248–251 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to correspondence@ntsb.gov. If it exceeds 20 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.