Update: El Faro Believed to Have Sunk, One Body Found

Cargo ship El Faro that went missing on Thursday, October 1, is believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin, the US Coast Guard said.

“While searching in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands, Bahamas, the Coast Guard located a deceased person in a survival suit in the water,” the Coast Guard informed.

As reported, a heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro was also located. Additional items located include a partially submerged life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen were located by Coast Guard aircrews within a 225 square nautical mile search area.

The El Faro, a 735-foot ro-ro cargo ship owned by TOTE Maritime, carrying 33 crew members onboard was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida when it went missing.

The crew consists of 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals.

“At this point in time, the entire TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico family is distressed that it now appears the El Faro sank at or near its last known position on Thursday October 1, 2015.

We continue to hold out hope for survivors. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family members and we will continue to do all we can to support them,” said Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center in Portsmouth, Virginia, received an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list.  The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.

The Coast Guard said that multiple crews continue to search for survivors from the ship.

Assets involved in the search include two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplanes, two Navy P-8 fixed wing airplanes, a MH-60 Jayhawk and three coast Guard cutters, along with three commercial tugboats.

Sea and weather conditions during today’s search include one-foot seas and 15 knots winds with unrestricted visibility.