Mangled metal and strewn debris mark the final resting place of the El Faro, the cargo ship that perished during Hurricane Joaquin, images released Sunday by the National Transportation Safety Board show.
The 790-foot cargo ship and its 33 member crew sank off the coast of the Bahamas after the vessel lost propulsion on Oct. 1 -- right in the path of what would become a category 4 storm.
Authorities called it the nation’s worst maritime disaster in 35 years.
Following a desperate six-day search in what Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor described as “horrific” weather conditions, authorities called off the search for survivors and turned instead towards recovering the wreckage of the forty-year-old ship.
Eventually, a remotely operated vehicle confirmed the vessel was at the bottom of the sea near Crooked Island, Bahamas, 15,000 feet below the surface – even deeper than the Titanic -- its hull buried in about thirty feet of sediment.
But to investigators’ surprise, the navigation bridge, where many crew members likely attempted to weather the storm, had been shorn off, battered by the powerful storm.
They would later find the navigation bridge nearly half a mile away. But one thing was missing: the ship’s voyage data recorder, or VDR.
The VDR would have captured audio from the 12 hours before the ship’s sinking, providing insight into the vessel’s final moments.
Still, investigators say, they’re “hopeful that we’ll be able to determine the probable cause of this tragedy” – even without the so-called black box.