The Latest: Forecaster: Joaquin forecasts contained errors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Latest on U.S. Coast Guard investigative hearings into the sinking of the El Faro (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

A National Hurricane Center official who oversees storm prediction says early forecasts for the storm that became Hurricane Joaquin contained significant errors.

James Franklin, branch chief of the centre’s hurricane specialist unit, testified Tuesday before the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation, which is looking into the sinking of the freighter El Faro.

The El Faro sank Oct. 1 after losing propulsion and getting caught in Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 aboard died.

Franklin says Joaquin was forecast as a “relatively weak system” that would head west-northwest and dissipate in the days when the El Faro was sailing between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.

Instead, Joaquin moved south-southwest and strengthened into a strong hurricane.

El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson was aware of the storm, and chose to take a faster, less safe route.


4 p.m.

A cargo ship captain who worked for the company that owned the freighter El Faro, which sank last year in a hurricane, said he was asked to resign or be fired after reporting safety concerns about his ship.

He said he got fired.

Capt. Jack Hearn, who sailed for Tote Services Inc., testified Tuesday before a U.S. Coast Guard panel investigating the El Faro’s sinking last October. All 33 aboard died.

Hearn said after he raised concerns about holes in his ship, the El Morro, Tote reluctantly reported them to the Coast Guard. He said he took a trip without the needed repairs.

Hearn said a Tote official came onboard weeks later and asked him to resign or be fired.

Tote’s attorneys at the hearing did not address Hearn’s testimony.