The Latest: Cargo ship has 2 Coast Guard certified lifeboats

AP News
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Posted: Oct 04, 2015 10:00 PM
The Latest: Cargo ship has 2 Coast Guard certified lifeboats

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The latest on the search for a cargo ship missing off the coast of Bahamas (all times local):

9 p.m.

An official with the shipping company that owns and operates the El Faro says the missing cargo ship has two U.S. Coast Guard certified lifeboats that can hold 43 people each.

Phil Greene, president and CEO of TOTE Services, Inc. also said the El Faro has four life rafts, four in the rear and one in the front, which could hold 15-17 people each.

The ship, which has not been heard from since authorities lost contact with it Thursday in the southeastern Bahamas, has a crew of 33 people.

Greene says the El Faro has been in service for many years and was built to work in the rough seas off Alaska.

"She is a sturdy, rugged vessel that was well maintained and that the crew members were proud of," Greene said.

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8:30 p.m.

An uncle of one of the crew members from the El Faro says the cargo ship was equipped with modern lifeboats. But Barry Young says no one knows whether the 33 crew members had a chance to use them.

Young spoke to reporters outside a Seafarer's union hall in Jacksonville, Florida, where family members have been getting briefings from the company.

Young says the families have been praying together and trying to support each other.

"We want closure and we hope and pray that it's them being brought home safely," he said.

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7:30 p.m.

A Coast Guard official says two Coast Guard cutters will search through the night for any sign of the El Faro, a missing U.S. cargo ship with 33 people on board.

Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash says the cutters Resolute and Northland will stay in the search area in the southeastern Bahamas as the planes and helicopters taking part in the search return to their bases for the night.

Nash said the only confirmed trace of the El Faro is a life ring with the ship's name on it that was found on Saturday. Search teams on Sunday found a debris field that consists of wood, Styrofoam and pieces of shipping container but authorities have not yet confirmed that the material came from the ship.

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3 p.m.

An Air Force base in south Mississippi says two planes with 'Hurricane Hunter' air crews that flew into Hurricane Joaquin had also been involved in the search for the U.S. cargo ship lost with 33 people on board.

Maj. Marnee Lasurdo told the Sun Herald of Biloxi that the two C-130 crews were studying the storm on Thursday when the Coast Guard asked their help. She says the crews searched near the Bahamas on Thursday and Friday for the 790-foot El Faro.

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1:40 p.m.

The owner of the missing cargo ship says a contracted tugboat and another of its ships have found a container that appears to be from the El Faro.

But Tim Nolan, president of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, says in a statement "there has been no sighting of the El Faro or any life boats."

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12:50

Rescuers have spotted floating debris and an oil sheen as U.S. crews continue an intensive search off the southeastern Bahamas for a U.S. cargo ship with 33 people on board. The ship has not been heard from since it lost power days ago and was taking on water in fierce seas churned up by Hurricane Joaquin.

The U.S. Coast Guard said early Sunday afternoon that its aircrews have spotted "life jackets, life rings, containers and an oil sheen" in the sprawling search area. But they have not yet been able to confirm whether the debris and oil is from the 790-foot El Faro. On Saturday, the Coast Guard said it located an orange life ring from the missing cargo ship.

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12:10 p.m.

The father of a crewmember who was on board the cargo ship that is missing near the Bahamas says he is traveling to Florida to follow search efforts from there.

Ronald Holland, father of crewmember Michael Holland, tells The Associated Press that he is traveling soon to Florida from their home state of Maine. The relatives of crewmembers have been gathering in Jacksonsville, Florida, where the El Faro departed on Sept. 29 for Puerto Rico.

Family members have said four of the crewmembers are from Maine.

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11:30 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a shipping container has been located in the waters of the sprawling search area, but authorities don't yet know whether it is from the El Faro cargo ship that is missing with 33 people on board.

The ship has not been heard from since it lost power when Hurricane Joaquin roared by the Bahamas on Thursday.

Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss said late Sunday morning that a container has been spotted but "we haven't been able to confirm yet whether it is from El Faro" or fell off another cargo ship in the vast expanse of the Atlantic being scoured by rescuers.

Doss said swells in the search area had decreased "by quite a bit" Sunday, allowing the Coast Guard to dispatch one of its cutters.

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9:20 a.m.

Aircraft have returned to the southeastern Bahamas to resume searching for a U.S. cargo ship with 33 people on board. The craft lost power and communications when it was caught in Hurricane Joaquin and has not been heard from since.

U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force planes and helicopters are expected to spend Sunday looking for the ship across a broad expanse of the Atlantic Ocean around Crooked Island, which the ship was passing when it was battered by fierce winds and waves by what was then a Category 4 hurricane.