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El Faro Lessons


In late September 2015, the 790-foot TOTE Maritime containership El Faro sailed straight into Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas. The ship went down, taking all 33 men and women aboard with her. Three of the widows left behind sought legal representation. Six years after the sinking, the law firm that represented them offered a damning assessment of why the ship sank and who was responsible.


The reasons cited were that the captain made decisions that put his vessel and crew at risk; that TOTE provided ineffective bridge resource management, inadequate company oversight and no proper safety management system; that the ship lacked suitable survival craft; and that flooding in cargo holds, loss of propulsion and down flooding through ventilation closures contributed to the sinking.

It is a damning account with lessons for all who go to sea.

You can read the full report on



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