The National Transportation Safety Board says it is ending its search and documentation of El Faro, the cargo ship that sunk October 1 near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin.
Before disappearing, El Faro's captains had sent out a distress call indicating that the ship had lost propulsion near the center of Hurricane Joaquin and was taking on water. Another crew member, Mitchell Kuflik of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime in 2011.
The NTSB still has a lot of investigative avenues to help determine what happened, even without the data recorder, said Marjorie Cooke, a marine safety expert with Robson Forensic and former director of the NTSB's office of marine safety. A Navy search team was able to locate the ship's navigation bridge last week.
"Over the years, we've completed many investigations without the aid of recorders and other investigative tools", said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart.
Using sonar and a remotely operated submersible, CURV-21, the wreckage of the ship was initially detected sitting on the ocean floor at a depth of almost three miles (5 km), deeper than the Titanic and beyond the reach of divers.
The ship's bridge was located on November 11 but neither the mast nor the VDR was found nearby. The ship, with 33 crew members on board, was on its way from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. The voyage data recorder, similar to an airplane's black box, contains the last 12 hours of engine orders and other communications from the bridge.