I have written before on this blogsite of the sinking of the El Faro, the Jacksonville-Puerto Rico veteran vessel, and her sinking, purely and solely at the hand of her Captain.
Before I travel further into the whys and wherefores of those tragic seafaring deaths, a word about the role of Captain. In the mercantile laws of every seagoing nation, from time immemorial, The Captain, the Master is the Person in Authority, His word is Law, he can abuse a crew, he can do anything he pleases when in International waters to further the passage of his ship: on every seagoing vessel whose command is licensed by the Law, He makes the decisions, and no-one can lawfully go against them.
In the video which I post at the base of this essay, the off-screen commentator; voice deliberately monotone and level; is armed with electronic evidence of the Master’s decisions, target courses, and times when certain commands were issued; or not, as the case may be: the foolhardy manner in which he chose to take on a HURRICANE; because he knew better; he knew that ALL maritime advice was contrary to the route he took, to the decisions to proceed on a course which took him right into the path of a Cat. 3 HURRICANE; with 110 m.p.h. winds, and waves piling thirty-forty-fifty feet high at peak. He knew better than literally thousands of Master Mariners who would have turned back, and doubled up his mooring ropes and arranged for more lines out, back in Jacksonville, rather than attempt to keep to Tote Maritime’s timetable. He didn’t murder the crew, there was no planning, no sense or need; but there was plenty of evidence that he received some weather advisories on time, some later, at least one which sat on his computer for five hours before downloading and copying to the bridge. He did not murder those crew members, but he was guilty of 32 counts of manslaughter, and one count of suicide (his own)!
I have sailed on the outskirts of an Atlantic hurricane, and have also witnessed the truly awe-inspiring aftermath of a typhoon off Taiwan, where the peaks between rollers must have measured half-a-mile: I have seen a tiny sample of truly gigantic storms, but our Deck Officers and Captains had every possibility laid out, with the then technology before satellite forecasting became generally available in the 1970’s. They laid all possibilities out, all possible routes were discussed, and it was always a meeting of minds which agreed a route towards bypassing a storm.