JACKSONVILLE, Florida (NEWS CENTER) – The final inspection of the El Faro uncovered no mechanical or structural issues with the 40-year old ship.
That inspection was conducted a little more than three months before the ship made its final journey. The El Faro sank off the Bahamas in Hurricane Joaquin last fall. Thirty-three people went down with the ship including four crew members from Maine.
The Coast Guard is responsible for inspecting commercial ships but there were so many ships it was responsible for it outsourced the inspections to an outside party. The company that does the majority of those inspections or surveys is ABS, American Bureau of Shipping.
Three representatives of that company testified today. Senior surveyor Mark LaRose conducted the last inspection of the El Faro in June. LaRose testified everything seemed to be in order. He said all the information given to him about the ship appeared to check out when he went below deck and ran tests on the ship’s equipment.
The El Faro was 40-years old and was expected to be taken out of service soon. LaRose testified older ships are inspected the same way as newer ones. He said the condition of the engine room says a lot about the way the crew maintains it.
“I remember it being a very clean engine room. I feel that the engineers took pride in their engine room, it was quite clean. When you go on a ship and the engine room is very clean its kind of an indication of how they are treating it “, said LaRose.
Some of the testimony today was slow and technical, but people closely watching the hearings say that’s all part of the process.
“It's thorough but I have not seen anything where they have wasted their time there, really I think they’re doing a good job, questioning people with good knowledge and exploring it deeply”, said Rob Sullivan, a maritime attorney.
Earlier this week we heard testimony from two former captains of the El Faro. When testimony resumes on Wednesday the board will hear from another one who’s expected to testify about the ship’s cargo, crew and other vessel issues.