El Faro Sinking Inspires New Bill to Bolster Maritime Safety

In response to the loss of the El Faro containership,  the deadliest shipping disaster involving a US-flagged vessel in more than 30 years, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the United States has passed a bill to increase maritime safety.

Image Courtesy: NTSB

The Maritime Safety Act of 2018 includes provisions that require the Coast Guard to ensure proper vessel inspections are undertaken, that vessels and crew have necessary safety equipment and timely weather forecast charts, and that voyage data recorders float free after an accident. The bill is now headed to the U.S. House of Representatives for vote.

“The loss of the U.S.-flagged cargo vessel El Faro, along with its 33-member crew, ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history, and resulted in the highest death toll from a U.S. commercial vessel sinking in almost 40 years,”  said Maritime Transportation Chairman Duncan Hunter.

  “The Nation relies on our merchant mariners and the U.S.-flagged ships they sail, and we owe it to them to learn from the lessons of past tragedies. The Maritime Safety Act of 2018 incorporates a number of safety recommendations from the El Faro tragedy, and I’m confident that it will make great strides in improving the safety of our mariners.”   

According to the investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) the sinking was caused by the captain’s failure to avoid sailing into a hurricane.

The 790-foot El Faro sank on October 1, 2015 in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Joaquin, taking the lives of all 33 seafarers who were aboard.