The U.S.-flagged ship was captained by Michael Davidson, of Windham, Maine. He is one of 33 souls on board the ship, including 28 Americans and five Polish nationals, CNN reports.
The ship set out from Jacksonville, Florida, on a trip to Puerto Rico last Tuesday. It’s last reported position was near the Bahamas. Davidson sent a satellite distress message from the ship, reporting that it was taking on water and at a 15-degree list, the Coast Guard said. That was the last time the ship was heard from.
One body has been found during the search, which is continuing as the Coast Guard tries to locate any survivors.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Davidson Is an ‘Experienced’ Mariner Who Was Once a Ferry Captain in Maine
Michael Davidson, who has two daughters, is an experienced mariner, who was once a ferry captain for Casco Bay Lines in Portland, Maine, the Portland Press Herald reports.
His friend, Nick Mavodones, told WCSH-TV that Davidson is a good sailor.
“He, I’m sure, was very mindful of a variety of things before he got underway — all safety-related and weather-related,” said Mavodones. “I knew he sailed deep sea — I didn’t know he was on that route. But any time you hear somebody you know is in that type of circumstance, it startles you a bit and you hope and pray the best for them.”
Mavodones told the news station, “Any time you’re a mariner, you want to exercise prudence operating a vessel, and I’m sure he was doing that earlier this week when got underway from Jacksonville. He’s been sailing these ships for many years and is very experienced, and I think, a very good sailor.”
2. The El Faro Is Owned by an American Shipping Company
Tim Nolan, president of Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, said in a statement:
On September 29, the El Faro, one of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s two ships departed Jacksonville en-route to San Juan Puerto Rico. At the time of the El Faro’s departure, the vessel’s officers and crew were monitoring what was then Tropical Storm Joaquin. As of 720am EST on Thursday October 1, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico lost all communication with the El Faro. The US Coast Guard was immediately notified and since then we have been unable to reestablish communication. There are a number of possible reasons for the loss of communications among them the increasing severity of Hurricane Joaquin.
TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico’s primary concern is for the safety and well-being of the 33 individuals on board. We are working to ensure clear and frequent communications with their families and loved ones as we learn more.
We have reached out to the families of those impacted and have established open lines of communication to provide them with timely updates. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families.
Some of the names of crew members and information about them has emerged. You can read about them at the link below:
3. Davidson Checked With the Company Headquarters Before Setting Out From Jacksonville
TOTE Services President Phil Greene told CNN, “The captain knew the conditions and communicated back to our headquarters. The conditions were, as he saw them then, favorable. He was very confident the ship was doing well, the crew was quite up to date. I think the most critical importance for us is that we share as much information as we have, that we’re upfront about the situations as we possibly can be.”
4. He Is a Graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy
Michael Davidson is a graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy, the Bangor Daily News reports. He is one of at least four graduates of the school believed to be on the ship’s crew.
5. The Coast Guard Found the Ship’s Life Ring & Other Objects in the Water on Sunday
“Life jackets, life rings, containers and an oil sheen have been located by Coast Guard aircrews,” the press release said. The objects were found about 75 miles northeast of the ship’s last position by a Coast Guard helicopter.
“It validates our search efforts and while we are disappointed we did not find the ship today we are hopeful,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo told CNN. “Tomorrow, we will have three C-130s flying and the Navy will be assisting again with a P-8 aircraft.”
According to a press release from the Coast Guard, there are two HC-130 Hercules airplanes, three Coast Guard cutters and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter taking part in the search.