Testimony about a deadly container ship sinking that resulted in the deaths of five with Maine ties continued Thursday in an investigation held by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation.
Several high-ranking officials at Tote Services, Inc., the company that owned the 790-foot El Faro cargo ship that sunk off the Bahamas during a hurricane in October, provided testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.
The board is looking for evidence of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law by licensed or certified individuals.
Phillip Morrell, vice president of marine operations at Tote Services, Inc. spoke during the first day of the hearing. During his testimony, Morrell described services Tote provides and explained the reporting chains from vessel to management, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard. He also testified about the history of Tote’s El Faro operations, as well as El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson’s suitability for command and weather in general, the release said. Morrell, in an earlier news story, said the captain had “total responsibility,” including final determinations about safety, when to sail and the route.
In addition to Phil Green, the president and CEO of TSI, other TSI officials testified Wednesday, including Lee Peterson, director of safety and services; Jim Fisker-Anderson, director of communication; and Mick Kondracki, director of labor relations.
The El Faro went down off the Bahamas on Oct. 1 while on a cargo run between Florida and Puerto Rico. It was the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than three decades.
Among 33 crew members lost aboard El Faro were five with Maine connections: Davidson of Windham, a 1988 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy; Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton, a 2012 graduate of Maine Maritime; Danielle Randolph, 34, also of Rockland and a 2004 graduate of Maine Maritime; and Dylan Meklin, 23, a 2010 graduate of Rockland District High School and a 2015 graduate of Maine Maritime. Another crew member, Mitchell Kuflik of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime in 2011.