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Deep seas complicate search for cargo ship lost in Joaquin

searchJACKSONVILLE, Florida--Deep seas will likely hamper efforts to find the sunken U.S. cargo ship lost off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a federal safety investigator said on Tuesday, as a search for 32 missing crew ran into a sixth fruitless day.
  National Transportation Safety Board member Bella Dinh-Zarr spoke before her arrival in Jacksonville, Florida, to help spearhead an NTSB investigation into what maritime experts have called the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years.
  She said the probe promised to be difficult given that the ship sank in an unknown location, possibly in 15,000-feet (4,750-meter) deep waters. Its last known location, after departing Jacksonville last week en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was off Crooked Island in the Bahamas.
  "It's a big challenge when there's such a large area of water and at such depth," Dinh-Zarr said.
  Locating the wreckage of the ship is crucial as it would allow investigators to retrieve the vessel's black box voyage data recorder, which preserves the last 12 hours of engine orders and communications from the bridge. "We hope for the best and that the ship will be recovered." Dinh-Zarr said.
  On Monday, the ship's owner, Tote Inc, said the New Jersey-based company would "cooperate fully" with the NTSB. "All the information that we have will be made available to them," said Tote President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Chiarello. "We will find out what happened."
  The NTSB will also check the ship's maintenance records and other paperwork, Dinh-Zarr told reporters.
  Chiarello and other company officials have yet to explain why the ship sailed into the same area where Hurricane Joaquin reached a potentially catastrophic Category Four on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity. And there are other major, unanswered questions about what happened to El Faro before it sank.
  The ship was crewed by 28 U.S. citizens, as well as five Polish nationals who were contractors hired to perform repairs and maintenance.
  The NTSB will also check the ship's maintenance records and other paperwork, Dinh-Zarr told reporters. She said investigators hope to find as much material as possible amid two large debris fields strewn with items from El Faro. So far the Coast Guard has reported seeing a battered life boat, life jackets, life rings, and cargo containers, amid white polystyrene packing foam bobbing in the ocean.

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