A team of investigators and scientists used remotely operated undersea search equipment to find the recorder approximately 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas.
The 240-metre, US-flagged, cargo ship sank October 1, 2015, during Hurricane Joaquin while sailing from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. All 33 crewmembers aboard perished in the accident.
“Finding an object about the size of a basketball almost three miles under the surface of the sea is a remarkable achievement,” said Christopher A. Hart, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which participated in the recovery operation.
The type of VDR mounted on ‘El Faro’ is capable of recording conversations and sounds on the ship’s navigation bridge, which could provide investigators with important evidence as they seek to understand the sequence of events that led to the sinking.
In an earlier mission, investigators identified the vessel and related debris field on the ocean floor but were unable to locate the voyage data recorder. The second mission, in which more advanced sonar and imagery systems were deployed, was launched from South Carolina, USA on April 18.
The next step in the ongoing investigation is to determine how the VDR can be retrieved.