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A federal board could recommend more than 50 changes to improve safety of mariners after investigating the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, the agency said Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s five-person governing board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss findings from a two-year review of the disaster, which killed 33 mariners traveling from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.

The ship sank near the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, after sailing too close to Hurricane Joaquin.

The safety board plans to discuss actions by El Faro’s captain, Michael Davidson, as well as the age of the weather information being used and management of the team on El Faro’s bridge, the board said in a written release.

Other topics expected to come up include oversight by businesses that owned and operated El Faro for parent company Tote Inc.; plans for managing damage at sea; and the usefulness of the open-top lifeboats El Faro carried for emergencies.

NTSB staff spent more than 30,000 hour investigating the sinking, starting days after the ship vanished during Joaquin.

Investigators were on hand when El Faro was found 15,000 feet beneath the ocean surface and when a basketball-sized recorder that logged the crew’s last hours was finally retrieved 10 months after the 790-foot ship sank.

Agency staff drafted more than 70 findings from the investigation, NTSB said. At Tuesday’s meeting, they’re scheduled to talk to board members about subjects ranging from engineering and damage control to meteorology and the captain’s decision-making.

What effect those findings will have remains to be seen, though. NTSB doesn’t have power to implement its recommendations, but can forward them to government agencies like the Coast Guard, or to businesses and private organizations like the American Bureau of Shipping that inspects many vessels and the unions who help staff ships.

The Coast Guard finished its own review of El Faro’s sinking in October. That review concluded failings by the ship’s captain and owners, the Coast Guard and inspectors who checked the ship’s seaworthiness all contributed to it sinking.

Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263





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