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Ship Surveyors Answer Questions from Investigators about El Faro

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)

A surveyor who examined the cargo ship El Faro's machinery last year said Thursday he had only a day's notice before conducting an inspection that lasted five or six hours.

That's "not necessarily" too little time to be ready, but the American Bureau of Shipping normally wants several days to make the inspection fit into work schedules, surveyor Mark Larose told a Coast Guard panel examining the ship's Oct. 1 sinking during Hurricane Joaquin, which killed 33 people.

The Coast Guard was told about the inspection, but didn't send anyone to attend, Larose said.

Told by a panel member that Coast Guard rules call for 14 days' notice, he said that seemed "a little excessive," but agreed that more lead time could make it easier to have someone there.

Larose said he was adequately prepared for the June inspection, which was the only time he had been on board the ship that ran regularly between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.

Larose is a senior surveyor with the American Bureau of Shipping, or ABS, which conducts safety inspections. ABS surveyor Jamie D'Addieco and Thomas Gruber, former head of the ABS Loadline and Stability Group, will also appear before the panel.

The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation is the second into the El Faro sinking. The ship departed Jacksonville, where many of the mariners lived.

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