Jacksonville, FL - The El Faro had seen a “cluster” of incidents, and was being closely monitored by TOTE Services.
During the second day of a special Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation, TOTE Services’ Director of Ship Management Michael Kondracki , who served as the Director of Labor Relations and Risk Management at the time of the El Faro sinking, read an email he sent highlighting issues. He says he was directed by the head of the company to look for any trends of issues among ships or unions, and he saw a “cluster” on the El Faro for 2015.
When asked whether the El Faro had an unusual number of complaints for such a vessel, Kondracki confirmed they seemed “more active”.
One incident specifically led TOTE Services to put on hold the promotion of El Faro’s Captain, Michael Davidson.
Davidson had been passed over for a promotion to a newer ship months earlier, but Kondracki says he was later reconsidered and the consensus was to move forward with the promotion. That was halted, however, over a “zero tolerance policy” issue dealing with alcohol use by a crewman.
Kondracki says Davidson prevented a crewman to get back on the ship after the crewman allegedly got drunk. Kondracki says that’s not the type of behavior they expect from their mariners, even though it wasn’t a technical violation of the policy, which prohibits alcohol on the ships.
Davidson didn’t immediately push the incident up the chain, which would have allowed them to get evidence at the time, like a blood test. Instead, Kondracki says they were left with secondhand accounts and little physical proof, which is why the incident itself wasn’t actually written up.
While this follows a line of questioning yesterday around an email which raised questions about Davidson’s leadership capabilities, Kondracki-along with the TOTE Services President- said they didn’t give that note much weight because they believed it was written more from emotion than fact. President Phil Greene in fact said Davidson was “eminently qualified” to be Master, and that he read the email, “set it aside, and moved on”.
GALLERY: El Faro crew
Kondracki then got emotional while talking about his final communication with Davidson, just a day before the ship went down. He says Davidson was talking about being home for his 25th wedding anniversary.
WOKV will continue to follow every minute of this special investigation. Continue to get instant updates on Twitter.