Sophisticated sonar equipment towed from Apache first detected what are
believed to be images of the vessel using Orion, a side-scanning sonar system,
at about 1:36 pm ET on October 31 during the fifth of 13 planned search line
To confirm the finding, specialists on Apache will use CURV 21, a deep
ocean remotely operated vehicle, to survey and confirm the identity of the
wreckage. This survey could begin as early as Sunday, November 1.
The target identified by Orion is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship, which from
sonar images appears to be in an upright position and in one piece.
Shortly after the National Transportation Safety Board opened its investigation
into the accident, it contracted with the U.S. Navy to locate the missing ship,
document the wreckage and debris field, and if possible, recover the voyage
Apache departed Little Creek, Va., on Oct. 19 after being fitted with a
suite of state-of-the-art underwater detection equipment. On Oct 23, after
arriving at the last known position of El Faro, specialists on Apache
placed a towed pinger locator (TPL) into the water and began slowly traversing
the area according to a preset search pattern in hopes of picking up sounds of
the pinger from El Faro’s voyage data recorder.
After three days without any indication of a pinger signal, the TPL was
withdrawn from the ocean and Orion was put in the water in an attempt to locate
El Faro with sonar technology, which creates sonar images from the
processing of sound patterns.
If the vessel is confirmed to be El Faro, CURVE-21, outfitted with a
video camera will start the documentation of the vessel and the debris field
and attempt to locate and recover the voyage data recorder. Those operations
are expected to take up to 15 days to complete in ideal conditions but could
take longer depending on weather and conditions encountered during the
Additional investigative updates will be issued as circumstances warrant.
More information and resources are available on the NTSB’s webpage for the El
Faro accident investigation: http://go.usa.gov/3Smre
Additional information regarding the equipment used by the US Navy is available
on their website.