The captain of a doomed container ship declined to reverse course despite receiving three phone calls warning him the vessel was headed into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, transcripts of a voyage data recorder recovered from the wreckage and released today by the National Transportation Safety Board reveal.
The 790-foot El Faro sank in October 2015 off the eastern coast of the Bahamas after losing propulsion and enduring hurricane winds reaching over 100 miles per hour. Following a six-day search in challenging weather, rescue workers gave up hope of finding any of the 33 crew members.
During the overnight hours from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2015, the NTSB noted three instances of crew members calling Captain Michael Davidson to review weather reports, including two in which suggestion is made to alter their route away from the storm.
After one phone call, the second mate tells another member of the crew “that the captain wanted to stay on course.”
Later, on the morning of Oct. 1, Davidson instructed his crew to send a distress signal and ring an alarm to abandon ship. The audio ends at 7:40 a.m. after capturing Davidson telling a crew member, “I’m not leaving you. Let’s go.”
Several months later, investigators discovered the ship’s hull buried in sediment 15,000 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. The navigation bridge -- shorn off from the hull -- was uncovered nearly half a mile away. At the time, investigators failed to locate the mast and black box, or voyage data recorder.
In a subsequent search, investigators using more sophisticated sonar and remotely-operated vehicles found the mast and identified the VDR, according to the NTSB.
ABC News' Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.