In the bestselling tradition of A Perfect Storm and The Finest Hours, a harrowing account of the incredible true story of the recent shocking disappearance of El Faro, a gigantic American cargo ship that sank suddenly in the Bermuda Triangle in 2015—taking with it thirty-three lives.
On October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro, a cargo ship tall as a hundred-story building that made a regular run between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico, delivering everything from razor blades to new Chevrolet cars, disappeared in Hurricane Joaquin, a category 4 storm. The ship, her hundreds of shipping containers, and her entire crew sank to the bottom of the ocean, three miles down. The sinking was the greatest seagoing US merchant marine shipping disaster since World War II, and evoked the haunting resonances of Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The massive ship had a seasoned crew, state-of-the-art navigation equipment, advance warning of the storm, and knowledge of its supposed track. It seemed incomprehensible that such a ship could sink so suddenly, unable to send even a Mayday call before disappearing. How, in this day and age, could something like this happen?
The answer is that a ship as large as the El Faro doesn’t sink for just one reason; it sinks because many factors intersect—everything from hurricane-tracking algorithms to the decay of rubber gaskets on hatches to the arcane science of loading shipping containers to the complex relationship between a ship’s captain and his corporate overlords, who are anxious that cargo be delivered on time. All of these factors and more came into play in the sinking of the El Faro.
Relying on Coast Guard inquest hearings as well as numerous interviews, Foy has crafted a brilliant account that brings to life the last voyage of El Faro, from her loading to her shocking demise, a story lasting only a few days but which relentlessly becomes more suspenseful as the deep-rooted flaws leading to the ship’s sinking inexorably link together and worsen. As we anxiously watch the captain and his crew, the hurricane tightens like a noose around the ship and we see, minute to minute, all that is happening—the dangerous tilting to the port side, the frantic calls to the engine room, the ship-to-shore cries, the loss of propulsion, the courage of the men and women as they fight for survival, 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...
Foy’s account includes maps, photographs, and the voices of the doomed crew as they respond to the mounting danger. Meticulous and absolutely thrilling, Into the Storm is a masterwork of stunning power.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
George Michelsen Foy is the author of 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
Note on Sources 237
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!