FORT MYERS, Fla.- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new images of the sunken El Faro cargo ship on Wednesday, lying 15,000 feet below the ocean surface.
The ship sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1 after losing engine power and getting caught in the Category 4 hurricane. Thirty-three people were on board, including four men from Lee County.
The NTSB spoke with the families of those on board the ill-fated vessel, updating them on the investigation. Officials spent more than 150 hours using a side-scan sonar and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to conduct the investigation.
The El Faro’s voyage data recorder (VDR), a device is similar to an airplane’s black box, is still missing. Investigators say there is a chance the NTSB could begin another search for the VDR again, but at this time, they haven’t made that decision.
Investigators will also look into why the ship’s captain chose to continue the route as Hurricane Joaquin strengthened, and search for evidence of commercial pressure, to determine if the ship owner Tote Marine managed the pressures of making a profit, while following safety procedures. Multiple lawsuits have been filed by crewmember families against Tote Marine.
The investigation is expected to take at least a year to conduct.