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The “voices of the lost” were taken through the VDR of the sunken American ship SS El Faro. The families and relatives of the thirty-three men and women killed have been desperate for justification. 

Scrutinizing the mystery, off the Bahamas, actually took ten months of uncertainties and patience, millions of money, and technology. All these elements were in order to reach 3 miles into the realm of complete darkness. Unfortunately, the absence of survivors of the immersed SS El Faro has led to unknown causes of the disastrous event.

According to the safety board’s lead inspector, “This marine casualty was really strange. Basically, because we didn’t have any survivors to interview with.Survivors would at least enlighten us to the situations and events, which took place aboard the SS El Faro as they approach the hurricane.” 

To reiterate, The SS El Faro departed Jacksonville, Florida on the early morning of September 30, 2015. The ship was bound for Puerto Rico, where the hurricane Joaquin was actually hundred miles to the east. Then on, the disastrous storm has been declared category 3 the following day, when the ship likely experienced swells and winds as it sailed near the eye of the storm. Exactly, on October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro had ceased communications with the shore.


More facts about the SS El Faro’s set back

  • The 42 years old ship was confirmed missing on October 2, 2015
  • Thorough investigation/search operation was headed by the United States Coast Guard
  • The inspection was joined with Navy, Air Force, and Air National Guard
  • A  damaged lifeboat, debris, and unidentifiable bodies were retrieved
  • On October 5, 2015, The SS El Faro was declared sunk
  • The “underwater search” for SS El Faro was conducted on October 19, 2015

The VDR Voyage Data Recorder Audio

Precisely, the key piece of the puzzle was the SS El Faro voyage data recorder. Initially, the National Transportation Safety Board had discharged fifty pages of audio transcript from the ship’s VDR on December 13, 2016. Veritably, the VDR system had recorded voices/audio of the SS El Faro’s final hours from the six microphones that were placed on the vessel’s bridge.

Specifically, the very first documented voice was the captain’s communication to the crew that happened 5:43 in the morning. And, the very last recorded voice was at 7:39 in the morning where the captain and AB  still on the bridge.

5:43 AM – the captain take phone call emphasizing suspected flooding in the number three cargo hold. And, sends the chief mate to check. The crew then begin to take measures in trying to assess and control the flooding.

7:32 AM – the captain is trying to help a distressed helmsman/AB off the bridge with alarms ringing all through. The captain consistently telling the AB not to panic. “Work your way up here, you are okay, come on, I’m not leaving you, let’s go!” Exclaiming, the AB “I need a ladder, a line! I need someone to help me!”

7:39 AM – the voyage data recorded ends with the two people still on the bridge.

Undeniably, the Voyage Data Recorder was the only tool for all the questions that were left unanswered before the recovery of VDR.

According to the investigators, “It was incredibly moving and we listened to the entire recorder from the start to end. After which, the team was just totally silent, nobody have spoken.”

The team had known that the documentation of the VDR was really going to end and that how tragic the ending was. That was very hard for the team to look at the clock count down until the end of the recording. They learned from the voyage data recorder that multiple weather reports were actually sent to the vessel. However, the captain of the ship had been using the outdated information in making his failed decision.

Of the thirty-three, unluckily, not one of the crew was retrieved. The only remains are their voices and words, which tell a mariner’s life story, death, and the unforgiving storm and sea.