A search team believes it has located the wreckage from the El Faro cargo ship that disappeared last month during Hurricane Joaquin, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The discovery was made Saturday afternoon at a depth of about 15,000 feet in the vicinity of the ship's last known location. The NTSB said preliminary sonar imaging of the vessel shows that it appears to be intact. It adds:
"Sophisticated sonar equipment towed from Apache first detected what are believed to be images of the vessel using Orion, a side-scanning sonar system, at about 1:36 pm ET on October 31 during the fifth of 13 planned search line surveys.
"To confirm the finding, specialists on Apache will use CURV 21, a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle, to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage. This survey could begin as early as Sunday, November 1.
"The target identified by Orion is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship, which from sonar images appears to be in an upright position and in one piece."
The NTSB said if the downed vessel is confirmed to be the El Faro, a video camera will begin documenting the ship and the debris. It also said there will be attempts to recover the voyage data recorder. In all, the operations are expected to take up to 15 days, but could go beyond that depending on weather and other conditions.
As we reported last month, the El Faro was owned by Tote Maritime, was en route from Jacksonville, Fla. "with commercial goods and 33 crew members — 28 Americans and five from Poland."
Before the ship disappeared, the captain said the vessel began taking on water and lost engine power on its way to San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to the Associated Press.