Latin America & Caribbean

El Faro: Sunken cargo ship's black box found

The stern of the El Faro seen from the sea floor Image copyright NTSB via Reuters
Image caption The wreckage was discovered last year but it has taken months to recover the black box

Search teams have recovered the black box data recorder from a cargo ship that sank last year near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin.

All 33 crew died when the El Faro disappeared sailing from Florida to Puerto Rico in October 2015.

Its wreckage was discovered a month later but search crews were not able to retrieve the black box until now.

It is hoped the data will help determine what happened in the final hours before the boat's sinking.

"The recovery of the recorder has the potential to give our investigators greater insight into the incredible challenges that the El Faro crew faced,'' said Christophe Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The black box was found in April this year but only recovered after search crews drove a remotely operated vehicle down to the ship's resting place to remove it.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The recorder should provide vital clues on the cargo ship's final hours

Hearings earlier this year looked at Captain Michael Davidson's decision to leave port with a huge storm brewing, and the safety record of the ship's owner, Tote Services.

A panel found that Davidson was aware of the hurricane and had planned a safer route but may have had out-of-date weather advice.

The El Faro sent out a distress signal on 1 October, saying it had lost power and was taking on water

The ship was eventually found 15,000 ft (4,570m) under the sea. A body wearing a survival suit was recovered shortly after the sinking, as was a heavily damaged lifeboat with no one aboard.

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