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El Faro Captain Misjudged Hurricane Strength, Coast Guard Says

The primary cause of the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, which killed all 33 aboard, was the captain misreading both the strength of a hurricane.
The cargo ship El Faro
The cargo ship El FaroCapt. William Hoey / MarineTraffic.com
/ Source: Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Coast Guard says the primary cause of the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, which killed all 33 aboard, was the captain misreading the strength of a hurricane and overestimating the ship's strength.

The cargo ship El FaroCapt. William Hoey / MarineTraffic.com

The Coast Guard report made public at a news conference Sunday makes recommendations stemming from the Oct. 1, 2015, sinking of the 790-foot vessel, which went down near the Bahamas when Capt. Michael Davidson tried to cut through Hurricane Joaquin. The Jacksonville, Florida-based ship was headed to Puerto Rico.

Related: El Faro Owner Settles With Families of Sunken Ship's Crew Members

Voice recordings recovered from the ship show an increasingly panicked and stressed crew fighting to save the ship after it lost propulsion as they battled wind, shifting cargo and waves.

Davidson ordered the ship abandoned shortly before it sank.