(Reuters) – U.S. authorities confirmed on Monday that a large vessel found on the deep ocean floor off the Bahamas is the lost cargo ship El Faro, which sank with 33 mostly American crew in a hurricane last month.
The National Transportation Safety Board had said on Sunday it would be using a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle, CURV-21, to survey and confirm the identity of the ship.
The wreckage, in an upright position and intact, was found at a depth of nearly three miles (5 km) on Saturday in the vicinity of its last known location off Crooked Island in the southeastern Bahamas.
A Navy salvage team had been searching the area for more than a week and will now seek to retrieve the ship’s voyage data recorder – similar to an airplane’s black box – as part of an investigation into its loss, according to the NTSB.
The El Faro disappeared on Oct. 1 on a regular weekly cargo route between Florida and Puerto Rico after the captain reported losing propulsion and taking on water. The crew included 28 Americans and five Poles.
It was the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel since 1983.
The cargo ship’s owner, Tote Inc, is facing four lawsuits filed by relatives of the crew, alleging the ship was not seaworthy and charted a course too close to Hurricane Joaquin.
Tote filed for liability protection in a federal court in Florida on Friday, citing U.S. maritime law and saying the ship was “seaworthy and properly manned” and that the company bears no responsibility for its loss
(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)