The US Coast Guard has suspended the search for survivors of TOTE Maritime’s missing cargo ship El Faro that disappeared near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin.
The decision follows the launch of a parallel investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
After a search operation covering over 172,000 square nautical miles, the US Coast Guard concluded that the ship sank near the Bahamas.
The agency has deployed one Navy P-8 Poseidon, three Coast Guard cutters, three tugboats and two Coast Guard helicopters.
US Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said that the search will now focus on finding the ship and voyage data recorder that would explain the reasons for the tragedy.
El Faro was enroute from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico with 33 people aboard including 28 Americans and five Polish citizens.
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The ship departed on 29 September with the vessel’s officers and crew monitoring the tropical storm Joaquin which later turned into a hurricane.
The last known position of the ship was about 35 miles northeast of Crooked Island implying that the vessel must have sunk in the deep seas.
NTSB vice-chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr said that the recorder with a battery life of 30 days is capable of surviving at the depths to which the El Faro is feared to have sunk and would have begun pinging once it was submerged in water.
The week long search operation by the Coast Guard yielded no progress except discovering an unidentifiable body earlier during the mission.