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NTSB to Release El Faro Transcript, Data

The cargo ship El Faro sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015 after running head-on into Hurricane Joaquin; all 33 crewmembers died. (US Navy photo)
The cargo ship El Faro sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015 after running head-on into Hurricane Joaquin; all 33 crewmembers died. (US Navy photo)

The National Transportation Safety Board, in its continuing investigation into the El Faro sinking that killed 33 mariners, will release a transcript from the cargo ship's final hours, weather data and "survival factors" on Dec. 13.

Top NTSB administrators will release the detailed transcript of audio from the ship's navigation bridge, and other facts related to "weather, engineering, survival factors, and data from the El Faro's voyage data recorder."

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart, Office of Marine Safety Director Brian Curtis and James Ritter, director of the Office of Research and Engineering, will speak to the media on Dec. 13 in Washington, D.C.

"The public docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators. The public docket does not provide analysis, findings, recommendations or probable cause determinations, and as such, no conclusions about how or why an accident occurred should be drawn from the docket," according to the NTSB.

"Providing the docket affords the public the opportunity to see what information has been gathered about the accident. Any analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations related to the accident will be issued by the NTSB at a later date."

The NTSB and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the tragedy.

The NTSB, Coast Guard, and Navy participated in three searches to find and survey the damaged ship three miles below the surface and, on the final trip, retrieved the ship's voyage data recorder that included 26 hours of audio and data. Microphones on the El Faro's navigation bridge recorded captain Michael Davidson ordering the crew to abandon ship and him reaching out to contacts on shore as the ship took on water, lost propulsion and began listing, or leaning.

The NTSB convened a group to discern the audio, difficult and time consuming given the weather and other circumstances during the recording, and develop a detailed transcript.

All 33 crew members, many of whom lived in Northeast Florida, died when Hurricane Joaquin battered and then sank the El Faro on Oct. 1, 2015. The ship was near its standard route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The owner and operator of the El Faro, Tote Services Inc., has settled wrongful-death cases with 24 of the 33 estates.

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