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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-17-052
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 NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: Coordinate with the National Weather Service, vessel operators, automatic identification system (AIS) service providers, and required onboard technology vendors to perform a “proof-of-concept” project to establish whether AIS, or another suitable alternative, can practically deliver, in a single message, (1) meteorological and oceanographic data obtained directly from automated instrumentation and manual observation on board vessels at sea, (2) vessel position and time of observation, and (3) other important metadata, by satellite and land-based receivers, to global meteorological authorities via the Global Telecommunication System with acceptable time delay.
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: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Date: 4/22/2019
Response: We continue to believe that the NWS Observations Project Charter for the AIS Automated Vessel Weather Reporting Proof of Concept, which you drafted on March 13, 2018, will help guide your proof-of-concept project to determine if AIS messaging can be used as we recommended. Pending the completion of this project, Safety Recommendation M-17-52 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2018
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, National Weather Service, Analyze, Forecast and Support Office: NWS Input: NOAA is establishing a project under the NWS Office of Observations to conduct a proof-of-concept to evaluate feasibility of transmitting weather information through AIS. Preliminary discussions have been conducted within NWS, NOAA, and potential contributors to this projects, as well as key stakeholders. The Senior Executive sponsor for this project is the NWS Director of the Office of Observations. The attached charter has been reviewed and finalized to ensure it properly captures the scope, contributors, costs and timelines for execution. NWS will report back yearly, if not sooner, to the NTSB on the results of the project.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Date: 5/30/2018
Response: We are pleased that, on March 13, 2018, you drafted the NWS Observations Project Charter for the AIS Automated Vessel Weather Reporting Proof of Concept, which will help guide your proof-of-concept project to determine if AIS messaging can be used as we recommended. We note that you have discussed this project with NOAA, stakeholders, and subject matter experts from various organizations, and that you plan to complete the project by November 2020. This action is a positive step toward satisfying Safety Recommendation M-17-52, which is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
To: NTSB
Date: 3/15/2018
Response: -From Teresa Souther Murphy, Physical Scientist/ Acting OBS Executive Officer, National Weather Service, Office of Observations: In response to the NTSB recommendation above, the National Weather Service is establishing a project under its Office of Observations to conduct a proof-of-concept to evaluate the feasibility of transmitting weather information through AIS. Preliminary discussions have been conducted within NWS, NOAA, and potential contributors to this projects, as well as with key stakeholders. The Senior Executive sponsor for this project is the Director of the Office of Observations. The attached draft charter is being reviewed and finalized to ensure it properly captures the scope, contributors, costs and timelines for execution. Thank you.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Date: 2/7/2018
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation—railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline. We determine the probable cause of the accidents and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we carry out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members affected by major transportation disasters. 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 is one issued to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which can be found on page 252 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in this recommendation because it is 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 this recommendation. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendation 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.