JACKSONVILLE, Florida (NEWS CENTER) - Members of the Coast Guard board investigating the sinking of the El Faro spent part of the day focusing on the ship’s captain or master Michael Davidson of Windham.
The former crewing manager for the ship’s owner Tote told them there were concerns about Davidson, but Melissa Clark was vague about it and seemed reluctant to talk about the specific concerns.
Davidson was one of four people from Maine lost on the El Faro. In all 33 people died when the ship sank off the Bahamas.
Davidson had not been chosen to be captain on the company Tote’s new line of ships. The board was trying to get to the bottom of why that was. They said in communications between Clark and Tote officials, she repeatedly expressed concerns about Captain Davidson. When pressed on that, Clark seemed reluctant to say what the concerns were.
Board member Keith Fawcett asked “So with those concerns you expressed, how can you reconcile that he was an active master on the El Faro?”
Clark responded “My dealings with Captain Davidson were regarding crewing and so I would not have judged his suitability as a master.”
When she was asked to characterize the concerns in general, she said when speaking with crew on board the El Faro, they expressed frustration with the captain.
Board Chairman Captain Jason Neubauer asked “Were the comments about treatment, lack of respect? I’m just trying to get more specifics."
Clark responded “There was a reluctance to give specific details. There was a reluctance to make formal complaints. So when they would make comments, I would ask questions and really wouldn’t get anywhere. Then I would advise them if they had concerns, what their options were in bringing the concerns to management", she said.
None of the crew members followed through in filing any complaints against Captain Davidson. Clark said complaints she heard from the crew were common against the captains of other vessels as well.
Despite pressing Clark for much of the morning, the board never did get to the bottom of exactly what the concerns were.