The National Transportation Safety Board released the transcript Tuesday from the El Faro’s voyage data recorder, which details the ship’s final hours.
The ship sank during a hurricane off the coast of the Bahamas in October of last year. All 33 crew members, including five Maine Maritime Academy graduates, were lost at sea.
The heartbreaking conversations detailed in this report are just a glimpse into the events before the ship went down.
These are some of the final conversations between a Captain and crew member, just moments before the El Faro’s tragic sinking last fall.
“About 7:31 am, the Captain relayed over the UHF radio to put the life rafts in the water. The audio recording ended around 7:40 am, with the Captain and one of the helmsman still present on the bridge.”
“The very last few minutes where the Captain was trying to work with one of the men as they tried to abandon ship and trying to help him… That’s just a testament, you see it in writing.”
Deb Roberts is the mother of Maine Maritime Grad, Michael Holland of Wilton, one of 33 crew members who perished on the El Faro.
She read the audio transcript from the cargo ship’s voyage data recorder released Tuesday.
The more than 500-page report sheds light on decisions made by Captain Michael Davidson, who was from Windham Maine, to stay the course in the face of a hurricane.
“The captain can be heard stating that they were getting conflicting reports on where the center of the storm was.”
NTSB officials say throughout the night, crew members urged him to change course because of the ship’s proximity to the hurricane and new forecast information.
But he never did, leading some to ask why.
“That’s part of the investigation. That’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t think we are ready to speculate on what the Captain might’ve known or didn’t know.”
Instead of casting blame, Deb Roberts takes comfort in the courage displayed by the crew in their final moments.
“They were all professional in the face of all the things that were happening to them. They never gave up. They tried at the very end to save the ship and to save each other and for that I’m thankful and blessed as a Mom.”
This transcript also revealed the Captain believed he needed to consult with Tote Maritime officials before taking a longer, safer course home, something the company has disputed.