News Release: Three Years After SS El Faro Loss, Coast Guard Gets High Marks for Scrapping Old Ships, Poor Grades for Follow-up on Civil Actions Against Ship Operator

Posted by

The SS El Faro sank on October 1, 2015, with the loss of 33 men and women. Most people think the Captain was at fault but a new book, Captains of Thor — What Really Caused the Loss of the SS El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin, says the Coast Guard, American Bureau of Shipping and the ship operators also had a hand on the helm.

  • Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail a friend

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 02, 2018

Three years after the SS El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015, with the death of 33 men and women, one part of the US Coast Guard has aggressively forced very old ships to the scrap yards while another part of the agency has been slow to bring civil actions against the ship’s operators.

“Most people think the SS El Faro was a simple case of an injudicious captain steering too close to a hurricane,” said Robert R. Frump, the author. “In reality, the ship itself was in many ways infirm and of questionable fitness for service, and twice the age at which most ships are scrapped.”

The action to scrap the ships is encouraging, Mr. Frump said, but the delay on civil actions, three years after the tragedy, is vexing.

Mr. Frump, a veteran maritime writer who, with Tim Dwyer, won the George Polk Award for reporting about the SS Marine Electric, has released the book on Amazon, which has formally listed it as the ” #1 New Release in History of Ships.” The book is “The Captains of Thor — What Really Caused the Loss of the SS El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin.”

In it Mr. Frump contends that blaming the captain for the tragedy overlooks chronic shortcomings in the American Merchant Marine and the enforcement of safety regulations.

In the wake of the El Faro investigations, Mr. Frump said, the Coast Guard’s Traveling Inspectors team has sent 13 ships into “no sail” status — which usually means the ships will be scrapped. The list includes the SS El Yunque, the identical twin of the SS El Faro.

But civil actions against Tote Maritime, the operator of the SS El Faro, have stalled. The formal Coast Guard Marine Board of Inspection and the Commandant recommended that the actions be brought. The Jacksonville Sector of the Coast Guard has recommended that action be taken. But Washington Headquarters still has the actions under review, weeks after the actions were proposed by Jacksonville.

The lag and unexplained delay occurs as the families of the El Faro crew members mark the three-year anniversary of the sinking on October 1.

In August, the Coast Guard command in Jacksonville sector confirmed that civil penalties had been recommended to Washington Headquarters and they expected action against Tote “in the very near future.”

However, the legal review has not progressed to a final stage and no approximate release date has been given.

“There is no update yet on the civil actions against Tote,” Lt. Amy Midgett, Headquarters Media Relations, said last week. “The recommended charges are still under final review.”

Tote has declined comment on the Jacksonville actions.

The SS El Faro sank on October 1, 2015 as her course intersected Hurricane Joaquin. The Coast Guard ruled that the captain of the ship ought not to have steered near the storm. The board and the Commandant also faulted Tote.

“Most relevant to this casualty…was the company’s failure to provide the necessary shore side support for the master to perform his duties safely,” said Commandant Paul Zukunft in his review of the tragedy.

The civil penalties proposed against TOTE deal with these alleged infractions:

Tote violated rest hours for deck officers in a systemic manner, specifically for Second Mate Danielle Randolph, the Marine Board found.

Moreover, TOTE did not adequately give safety training to a “riding crew” of Polish nationals on board to convert the ship for Alaska use.

The company also failed to report to the Coast Guard repairs to lifesaving equipment as required by law and did not report to the Coast Guard repairs to the ship’s main boiler

More than five weeks ago, Coast Guard officials in Jacksonville said they had recommended the penalties and “expect the details will be made public in the very near future.”

The book is available for free at and for $2.99 on Amazon.

Mr. Frump wrote the book in a serialized format after several months of research and attending the Marine Board hearings in Jacksonville.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.