60 Minutes to air report on El Faro disaster
By DAWN GAGNON | Bangor Daily News, Maine | Published: December 30, 2015
BANGOR, Maine (Tribune News Service) — The sinking of El Faro – deemed the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel since 1983 – will be the subject of a segment of “60 Minutes” scheduled to air on Sunday, CBS News officials said Tuesday in a release.
Sunday’s program will be the first to publicly show video of the wreck, located at a depth of 15,000 feet beneath the Atlantic in the infamous Bermuda Triangle, the show’s producers said Tuesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board contracted with the U.S. Navy to find the 790-foot El Faro, on a regular weekly cargo route between Florida and Puerto Rico after the captain reported losing propulsion and taking on water. The crew included 28 Americans and five Poles.
The and the mainland was made at 7:20 a.m., according to previously published reports. The cargo carrier lost propulsion and was listing after encountering Hurricane Joaquin north of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, the captain said in his request for help.
Among 33 crew members lost aboard the ship were five with Maine connections: 53-year-old Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, a 1988 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy; Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton, a 2012 graduate of Maine Maritime; Danielle Randolph, 34, ; and Dylan , 23, a 2010 graduate of Rockland District High School and a 2015 graduate of Maine Maritime. Another crew member, of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime in 2011.
A search team aboard the U.S. Navy ship Apache The vessel was found at a depth of about 15,000 feet near its last known position, just off Crooked Island in the southern Bahamas.
The NTSB allowed “60 Minutes” to report on its activities and to broadcast footage of the sunken cargo ship.
Tom Roth-Roffy, the NTSB’s lead investigator on the El Faro case, said he is looking at many factors to determine the cause of the sinking.
“This is the most difficult and complex investigation I have ever worked on in my 17 years with the National Transportation Safety Board,” Roth-Roffy said.
However, the investigator said he is confident he will be able to determine a cause.
A major challenge for Roth-Roffy is the absence of the ship’s voyage data recorder, which would give him and others access to the conversations on El Faro’s bridge that could offer more clues. The device went missing when the vessel’s top two decks — including the bridge, where the captain would have been — were shorn off.
Footage of the sunken vessel was taken by cameras attached to the Apache’s cable-controlled underwater recovery vehicle.
‘60 Minutes’ also spoke to family members of some of those lost at sea and to NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart, who said it may take up to a year to answer all the questions surrounding the sinking of the El Faro.
Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes” is scheduled to air at 7:30 p.m., according to local TV listings.
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