WHOI Supports NTSB Search for El Faro Data Recorder

Sentry, Photo: Walter Cho, WHOI

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will assist the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as it undertakes its second search for the vessel data recorder (VDR) of the sunken El Faro cargo ship.  

The U.S. flagged El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. All 33 of the El Faro’s crew perished in the accident.

The two primary objectives of the mission are to locate the ship’s VDR and to provide a more extensive and detailed survey of the shipwreck. Both will help investigators determine exactly why and how the ship sank.

The team of investigators along with WHOI scientists and engineers will work from the research vessel Atlantis, which is owned by the US Navy and operated by WHOI. The ship is scheduled to depart Charleston, South Carolina, April 18, and will search the accident site for 10 days before returning to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, approximately May 5.

An autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) called Sentry will be used to search for the VDR and map the seafloor around the El Faro, which sank to a depth of approximately 4600 meters (15,000 feet) between Florida and the Bahamas.

In addition to Sentry, the team will use a towed camera system to collect video imagery around the site.

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