Wreckage found off Bahamas confirmed as US cargo ship El Faro

'El Faro' Wreckage Found at the Bottom of Ocean

MIAMI (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.

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Wreckage found off Bahamas confirmed as US cargo ship El Faro
El Faro, provided by TOTE Maritime Services
ROCKLAND, ME - OCTOBER 5: John Gerry, a cousin of Dylan Meklin, is overcome with emotion after a candlelight vigil in honor of Meklin at the Fishermen's Memorial in Rockland Harbor Monday, October 5, 2015. Meklin, along with three other Mainers and 29 other souls, were aboard El Faro, a cargo ship which is believe to have sunk in the path of Hurricane Joaquin. 'I played football with him and everything,' said Gerry. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
ROCKLAND, ME - OCTOBER 5: A candlelight vigil was held at the Fishermen's Memorial in Rockland Harbor for Dylan Meklin, 23, of Rockland, and Danielle Randolph, 34, also of Rockland, Monday, October 5, 2015. The pair are among four Mainers and 29 other souls who were aboard El Faro, a cargo ship which is believe to have sunk in the path of Hurricane Joaquin. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
CASTINE, ME - OCTOBER 6: Travis Emerson, right, comforts Alexi Galley after a vigil for the crew members of the cargo ship El Faro, which is believed to have sunk off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. Four of the ship's crew, Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, Michael Holland of Wilton, Danielle Randolph of Rockland and Dylan Meklin, both of Rockland, are all graduates of Maine Maritime Academy. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
U.S.C.G. Cpt. Mark Fedor, right, and Lt. Cmd. Gabe Somma brief the media on the search for survivors of the cargo ship El Faro that sank during Hurricane Joaquin at the Coast Guard Station at the Opa Locka Airport on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
OPA LOCKA, FL - OCTOBER 05: U.S. Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor (L) and Lt. Commander Gabe Somma walk away after speaking to the media, at U.S. Coast Guard Station Miami, about the sinking of the 790-foot container ship El Faro on October 5, 2015 in Opa Locka, Florida. The Coast Guard has concluded that the ship most likely sank after encountering Hurricane Joaquin last Thursday, but Coast Guard cutters and aircraft and a U.S. Navy plane continued searching for the 33 missing crew members. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast C-130 just lands, reports 225 SqMi debris field of styrofoam, wood, cargo, other items. http://t.co/4us2EP4L4C
#BreakingNews: @USCGSoutheast MH-60 refueling at sea as search crews cover 70K+ sqNM in the search for 790' #ElFaro http://t.co/6ICMmxraO2
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast Video Release: Recovery of #ElFaro life ring. http://t.co/X0RfPsheTM
#BreakingNews: @USCGSoutheast search for #ElFaro has covered more than 30K sqNM. http://t.co/hBlBWAl0GK http://t.co/9H4PVf4wyM
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast aircrew searching IVO #hurricane #Joaquin for container ship w/ crew of 33. http://t.co/cpEfzRi5G1

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.

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.

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