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Testimony of Former El Faro Sailor Questions Ship's Safety

Family members listen as Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Chancery, second from left, answers questions during an investigative hearing into the sinking of El Faro ship in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 24, 2016. (Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
Family members listen as Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Chancery, second from left, answers questions during an investigative hearing into the sinking of El Faro ship in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 24, 2016. (Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former crew member of a cargo ship that sank after losing propulsion in a hurricane questioned why the ship's owner didn't do more to protect the crew.

The Florida Times-Union reports that former able seaman Marvin Hearman III testified Tuesday before the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation in Jacksonville, Florida.

The El Faro sank Oct. 1, 2015, while traveling from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. All 33 aboard died.

Hearman testified that Tote Services Inc. managers often called the ship to tell captains to slow down and conserve fuel, but didn't call to warn the crew they were headed into a strong hurricane.

In a statement, Tote spokesman Darrell Wilson said the company disagrees strongly with Hearman's testimony and is committed to supporting the lost sailors' families.

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