El Faro Captain 'Calm' During Final Communication to Shore

PHOTO: El Faro is pictured in this undated file photo. PlayAllen Baker/MarineTraffic.com
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The captain of the El Faro, the cargo ship believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin, was "calm" during the ship's final call to shore, the safety officer who received the call told the National Transportation Safety Board today.

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During that call, El Faro's crew reported the ship had lost propulsion and was taking on water -- but indicated that conditions seemed manageable, according to the ship's owner, Tote Maritime.

Just yesterday -- more than 6 days after that call -- the Coast Guard called off the search for survivors, leaving crew members’ loved ones devastated.

“Any decision to suspend a search is painful,” Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor when the suspension was announced, noting that personnel had endured “horrific” conditions in search of the 33 souls lost at sea.

The NTSB is now focused on locating the voyage data recorder, or VDR, which officials say likely sank with the ship.

The Navy will launch a search for the wreckage within a few weeks, the NTSB said today.

The VDR, which includes audio from the 12 hours before the ship sank, will provide crucial data about the ship’s final hours.

The captain of the El Faro's sister ship, the El Yunque, said the two ships passed within visual distance of one another hours before the El Faro was caught in the storm, according to the NTSB. The two captains apparently discussed the weather.