Debris field found in search for El Faro ship

Posted at 9:47 PM, Oct 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-05 00:47:16-04

Searchers for a U.S. cargo ship feared lost in Hurricane Joaquin found floating containers, life jackets and life rings today that officials say are consistent with what might have come from the missing El Faro.

In addition to the floating objects, searchers found an oil sheen, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said.

While the objects were found near the boat's last known position off the Bahamas, it was not confirmed that any of them were from the El Faro, Nash said.

Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force planes and helicopters are looking for the El Faro across a broad expanse of the Atlantic Ocean around Crooked Island today. They resumed their efforts at first light.

The first possible trace of the El Faro was a life ring found by the Coast Guard on Saturday. The discovery was seen as validation that search crews are in the right area.

Two additional life rings have been found, but it’s unclear if they belonged to the ship, the Coast Guard said.

The 790-foot cargo ship vanished 72 hours ago, near the eye of Hurricane Joaquin. The ship is carrying 28 U.S. citizens, as well as five Polish nationals.

The El Faro was traveling from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as Joaquin churned over the Atlantic Ocean. The ship sent a distress signal at 7:20 a.m. Thursday saying it had lost electricity, was taking on water and listing at 15 degrees.

Tote Maritime, the company that owns the ship, said captain Michael Davidson was aware of Joaquin’s path.

Friends and family members are holding onto hope that the ship's crew members are still alive.

"I am very hopeful, and until they find a reason for me not to be, I am going to remain hopeful," said Terri Davis, whose husband Larry is on the ship.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.