Run the Storm: A Savage Hurricane, a Brave Crew, and the Wreck of the SS El Faro

Run the Storm: A Savage Hurricane, a Brave Crew, and the Wreck of the SS El Faro

by George Michelsen Foy


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In the bestselling tradition of The Perfect Storm and The Finest Hours, “an exquisitely written and dramatic book...a literary page-turner” (Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers)—the 2015 mysterious disappearance of the SS El Faro, a gigantic American cargo ship that sank in the Bermuda Triangle, taking with it thirty-three lives.

On October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro, a massive American cargo ship disappeared in Hurricane Joaquin, a category 4 storm. The ship, its hundreds of shipping containers, and its entire crew plummeted to the bottom of the ocean, three miles down. It was the greatest seagoing US merchant marine shipping disaster since World War II. The massive ship had a seasoned crew, state-of-the-art navigation equipment, and advance warning of the storm. It seemed incomprehensible that such a ship could sink so suddenly. How, in this day and age, could something like this happen?

Relying on Coast Guard inquest hearings, as well as on numerous interviews, George Michelsen Foy brings us “the most insightful exploration of this unthinkable disaster” (Outside), a story that lasts only a few days, but which grows almost intolerably suspenseful as deep-rooted flaws leading to the disaster inexorably link together and worsen. We see captain, engineers, and crew fight for their lives, and hear their actual words (as recorded on the ship’s black box) while the hurricane relentlessly tightens its noose around the ship. We watch, minute by minute, all that is happening on board—the ship’s mysterious tilt to one side, worried calls to the engine room, ship-to-shore reports, the courage of the men and women as they fight to survive, and the berserk ocean’s savage consumption of the massive hull. And through it all, the pain and ultimate resilience of the families of El Faro’s crew. Now with a new afterword, this “tour de force of nautical expertise” (Ocean Navigator) is a masterwork of stunning power.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501184901
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 448,991
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

George Michelsen Foy is the author of Run the Storm, Finding North: How Navigation Makes Us Human and Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence, as well as twelve critically acclaimed novels. He was a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship in fiction and his articles, reviews, and stories have been published by Rolling Stone, The Boston Globe, Harper's, The New York Times, and Men's Journal, among others. A former officer on British coastal freighters, he teaches creative writing at NYU, holds a US Coast Guard coastal captain’s license, and divides his time between Cape Cod and New York.

Table of Contents

Crew of the SS El Faro xv

Author's Note xix

Part I The Silence 3

Part II Departure 17

Part III The Sailing 53

Part IV In Harm's Way 89

Part V The Quantum of Shipwreck 147

Part VI The Assassin Storm 193

Part VII Aftermath 221

Acknowledgments 235

Note on Sources 237

Index 239

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Run the Storm: A Savage Hurricane, a Brave Crew, and the Wreck of the SS El Faro 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
billmarsano More than 1 year ago
By Bill Marsano. The loss of a ship in a storm at sea is not an especially unusual occurrence in the ocean trade (we just rarely hear about them; they’re not headline news). But with no survivors? Not even bodies recovered? Without even an SOS? And an all-American ship—American-built, American-owned and registered, with an America crew and officers? And with a wealth of up-to-date communications and navigational aids aboard? Such was the fate of the container ship S.S. El Faro, bound from Jacksonville, Fla. to San Juan, Puerto Rico when she steamed head-on into Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2105. Everything already mentioned was unthinkable about the disaster and one thing was unique: the black box she carried—the maritime version of the familiar cockpit voice recorder—recorded all of the conversations on El Faro’s bridge during the 26 hours that led up to being overwhelmed by Joaquin off the Bahamas, plunging to the bottom and striking the seabed at an estimated 45 mph—and that black box, or Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) was recovered after an exhaustive search effort from its Atlantic Ocean grave 15,000 down—deeper than the Titanic. Blending transcripts from the VDR with his considerable writing skills (more than a dozen books, fiction and non-fiction and the knowledge acquired during years as a seagoing officer, George Michelsen Foy reconstructs El Faro’s fatal voyage and explores the many and accumulating reasons that destroyed the ship and the 33 souls aboard. His is a riveting account of a stubborn, arrogant captain who relied on outdated weather reports and dismissed the warnings of his officers; of a worn-out ship poorly maintained; of shipowners who put profit first; of a dangerously erratic hurricane that behaved like no other and bewildered its observers; of the search for the VDR; and the official investigations into the tragedy. Amidst the steadily accumulating facts Foy does not neglect El Faro’s 33 overworked officers and crew: the dead come alive in his moving account. Published simultaneously, the journalist Rachel Slade’s “Into the Raging Sea” tells a somewhat greater length the same harrowing tale. I recommend both. It takes two books to bring home this tragedy and the larger tragedy of the American merchant marine, the world’s largest within living memory and now barely a shell of its former self, and make an impact on readers who assuredly know almost nothing of it. Of the fact, that 95% of American trade travels on foreign ships.—Bill Marsano is a veteran writer and editor who from age 12 spent three summers on tramp freighters in the Caribbean as an illegal and marginally competent cabin boy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
George’s book was well written, and proud to have had the chance to meet him and help him with this book. Anyone wanting facts regarding S.S El Faro should read this book. I was really impressed in how was able to get all that information and put in this book. Thank you George hopefully now they will help make things safer aboard these ships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many times I've looked up from the beach to see a cargo ship lumbering by. George Foy's story of the loss of the El Faro in Hurricane Joaquin is an excellent summer read. Foy's description of the ship and it's crew and their routine preparations are detailed and told with insight and humor. Then the cascading decisions that lead it to its perilous end. Excellent!