The voyage data recorder (VDR), recently recovered by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has revealed that the captain of the El Faro cargo ship sounded an alarm for his crew to abandon the vessel before it sank in last year’s Hurricane Joaquin.
The incident, which occurred near the Bahamas, resulted in the deaths of all 33 people on-board.
NTSB, after retrieving the VDR from the undersea wreckage site, has been able to recover nearly 26 hours of information captured in the VDR.
The data includes bridge audio, navigational data, on-board radar images, and wind information.
Investigators examining the VDR have found it to be in good condition and have downloaded its memory module data.
The recording, which started nearly eight hours after the ship’s departure from Jacksonville, Florida, captured discussions between the ship’s master and crew members about their actions regarding flooding and the vessel’s list.
The crew were also discussing the lost propulsion of the ship.
Over the phone, the ship’s master informed staff onshore that the situation of the vessel was critical and he was arranging to abandon ship if required.
NTSB said that at 7:30am on the same day, the ship master sounded the alarm to abandon ship. The recording ended nearly ten minutes later.
The board also noted that information recovered from the VDR is preliminary, and times could change.
The VDR group, which includes technical experts, will continue to review the entire recording, including crew discussions on the weather situation, and the operation and condition of the ship, before developing the final transcript of the recording.