The Latest: El Faro captain refused vacation before voyage

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 5:41 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the investigative hearings into the ship that sunk in a hurricane near the Bahamas (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The captain of the freighter El Faro that sunk in a hurricane last year refused to take vacation the day before his ill-fated voyage because he wanted to use the time-off to be home for his 25th wedding anniversary.

Head of labor relations for Tote Services Inc. Mick Kondracki said Wednesday he emailed Michael Davidson about using vacation time on the day before El Faro left port in Jacksonville.

Fighting through tears, he said Davidson, who lived in Maine, was focused on using the time to be home for his anniversary.

The 790-foot-long El Faro sank Oct. 1 after losing propulsion while sailing from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 33 crew aboard died.

Kondracki's testimony came before a U.S. Coast Guard panel investigating whether misconduct or other problems led to the ship's sinking in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas.

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3 p.m.

The El Faro's owner sent a company-wide safety alert out about a hurricane last summer, but did not send one before the storm that contributed to the ship's sinking.

Phil Greene, CEO and President of Tote Services Inc., testified Wednesday at a U.S. Coast Guard investigative hearing that safety personnel sent out an alert for Hurricane Danny last summer only because it was the first storm of the season.

The 790-foot-long El Faro sank Oct. 1 after losing propulsion while sailing through Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 crew aboard died.

The panel is investigating if misconduct or other problems led to the ship's sinking in 15,000 feet of water near the Bahamas.

Greene said captains are responsible for ship safety, but that crew members can report if a voyage was unsafe.