El Faro, the cargo ship that tragically sunk on October 1 after it experienced a hull breach near the eye of a hurricane, has resulted in a number of lawsuits from the missing crew’s family and loved ones. The latest federal lawsuit, filed by the wife of Jackie Jones Jr., a mariner who is believed dead, claims that the El Faro had faulty electrical systems, defective satellite equipment, and corroded steel.
Mr. Jones’ wife, Addreisha Shirliea Jones, alleged that the owner of El Faro failed to make the necessary safety and maintenance precautions before negligently sending the cargo ship out to sea as hurricane Joaquin gained strength. This, she claims, not only violates the federal Death on the High Seas Act, but the Jones Act as well, an act that governs domestic shipping.
Cargo shipping is a popular means of transporting goods in the United States, with exports of goods and services of over $2.1 trillion in 2011 alone.
But the recently filed lawsuit — joining two others that have been filed since the ship and its passengers went missing — alleges negligence on the part of TOTE Maritime and its affiliate Sea Star Line LLC, the registered owners of El Faro.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the cargo ship was carrying cars and consumer goods to San Juan, Puerto Rico. While the ship was reported to have passed all safety inspections, El Faro was scheduled to have its boilers serviced in early November.
While federal investigators are seeking further evidence by locating the ship’s wreck and attempting to procure its voyage data recorder, the Jones family’s attorney at law reports that information gathered via interviews with former crew is evidence enough.
The lawsuit contains a great deal of evidence, tied with allegations regarding El Faro’s condition. According to interviews, the ship was “routinely overloaded with cargo,” such as vehicles, making the ship especially vulnerable in dangerous situations. Additionally, the ship allegedly failed to have functioning Emergency Position Indicating Radio beacons on board. These are a means of collecting and projecting location data.
After six days of searching for El Faro, the Coast Guard officially called off its search for survivors; all 33 crew members are believed to have died in the sinking.