On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
81°
Cloudy
H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    81°
    Current Conditions
    Cloudy. H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    67°
    Morning
    Cloudy. H 80° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    78°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 81° L 61°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Loss of lube oil pressure probed in El Faro sinking investigation
Close

Loss of lube oil pressure probed in El Faro sinking investigation

Loss of lube oil pressure probed in El Faro sinking investigation
These photos of engineering components on El Faro were introduced as an exhibit during the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation Hearing on El Faro's sinking. TOTE says these photos- which include a turbine, the engine room, and more- were taken around 2012, but a former Chief Engineer says it accurately represents El Faro dating through a few weeks ahead of the sinking.

Loss of lube oil pressure probed in El Faro sinking investigation

During the same portion of the investigation where the likely sequence of how El Faro sank was detailed, we’re now also getting a clearer idea of the events that may have led to the ship’s mechanical problems.

Multiple witnesses spoke Monday about the impact of lube oil on the ship’s engine operations, and the fallout on that as the result of a sustained list. El Faro is believed to have been listing some 15 degrees before sinking, killing all 33 people on board.

FULL COVERAGE: El Faro sinking

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico Director of Operations Lee Peterson says intermittent sounding of the lube oil pressure alarm is not in itself concerning. If it stays intermittent, the ship could still have enough pressure to operate.

“The worry for the engineering staff is, this is not something that normally happens, so it’s going to get their attention as to why it’s happening,” says Peterson, who was TOTE Services Director of Safety and Marine Operations at the time of the sinking.

The impact of the sustained list depends largely on the level in the lube oil sump. Testimony presented to the Board says El Faro was able to operated anywhere between 18 and 33 inches.  An analysis conducted by the Marine Safety Center at the request of the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation shows that, at 18 inches, a 15 degree list could mean a complete loss of suction. It’s not believed El Faro was that low on what would become her final departure, although the engineering logs are lost with the ship. Readings from earlier in the month show the level between 25 and 26 inches. Following a question from an MBI member, Peterson says putting more oil in the system before heading out in heavy weather could have helped.

If, in fact, there was a total loss of pressure, Peterson says there wouldn’t have been much time.

“Eventually, you’re going to start destroying your pump, not having any lubrication in there,” he says.

While it’s unclear what lube oil sump level El Faro was at on her final voyage, further testimony showed a “non-standard drop” in the level in July, about three inches during one watch shift. TOTE Services Port Engineer Tim Neeson says it’s “probable” that was the result of a loss in the seal of the lube oil purifier- a mechanical issue that wasn’t caught. No record confirming that has been presented, but Neeson says he wouldn’t expect to have been told about it.

Neeson has never heard of a problem with lube oil on a vessel like El Faro while the ship was underway. Upon questioning from a TOTE Incorporated attorney, Neeson said he believed handling that type of issue would be “second nature” for engineers.

GALLERY: Inside the MBI third hearing session

Despite some comments from the Captain that were captured by the ship’s Voyage Data Recorder, Peterson doesn’t think El Faro lost one or both or her boilers, believing that would have impacted power as well.

Another portion of the VDR transcript shows that, not long before the sinking, engineers were “blowing tubes”- basically clearing soot from an engine room component, which requires the ship to slow down. It’s a routine and scheduled procedure, but Peterson questions whether it should have been postponed.

“Given the circumstances, I don’t know that it would have been a priority. I’m not sure there was anything wrong with doing it at the time. I found it surprising too, it wasn’t something I would have expected,” he says.

Neeson confirmed that the procedure doesn’t risk ship operations, and that it’s the Chief Engineer’s discretion on whether to perform the procedure.

He also told investigators it’s a “valid possibility” the fire main ruptured, based on information from the VDR transcript. He also said, while cargo wouldn’t generally pose a risk to the emergency fire pump sea chest suction piping, it’s possible the bobbing cars indicated in the VDR could have worked their way over to the area and caused damage. Loose cargo or rigging could also have impacted the ability of the bilge alarm to sound.

WOKV continues to follow the latest from the MBI. Get instant updates on Twitter.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is asking for the community's help finding a missing 10-year-old. JSO says Sam Booker was last seen walking out from his classroom at Long Branch Elementary on Franklin Street around 1:00 PM Tuesday. Due to the circumstances involved, police say they want to make sure he's safe.  Booker is described as being 4'6'' tall, 60 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Police say he was wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans, and red and white shoes.  If you've seen him or know where he is, you're urged to call the sheriff's office at (904) 630-0500.
  • President Donald Trump has announced he commuted the sentence for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He made the announcement at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to a group of reporters. Blagojevich had been sentenced to 14-years in prison after being found guilty of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama became president, CNBC reported. Blagojevich tried to trade money and favors for the position. Trump told the reporters that the disgraced governor “served eight years in jail. It’s a long time to go,” CNN reported. Trump also tied Blagojevich’s prosecution to former FBI Director James Comey who is a friend of Patrick Fitzgerald, the US attorney in Illinois who prosecuted Blagojevich, a Democrat. “It was a prosecution by the same people -- Comey, Fitzpatrick -- the same group,” the president said, according to CNN. Trump identified Fitzgerald as Fizpatrick when he spoke to reporters. Trump had said that he was toying with the idea of using the clemency powers for Blagojevich in August and before, but conservatives in Congress fired back. Blagojevich appeared on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” television show in 2010, CNN reported. Despite the connection, Trump said he didn’t know him well, but saw Blagojevich’s wife asking for clemency on television. Blagojevich had been serving the sentence since 2013, CNBC reported. Trump also pardoned former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, he announced to reporters. Kerik, who was NYPD commissioner during 9/11, pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to investigators, both federal charges. He was sentenced to four years behind bars in 2009, CBS News reported. Trump also pardoned billionaire Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges in 1998, CBS News reported. Trump also pardoned Michael Milken, CNBC reported. The news organization called Milken “former junk bond king who became a face of the insider trading financial scandals of the 1980s.” Milken was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined $600 million, but the time behind bars was cut to two years after he cooperated with federal investigators, CNBC reported. Milken had pleaded guilty to violating U.S. securities laws, The Associated Press reported. The presidential orders came days before adviser Roger Stone is expected to be sentenced on his conviction of seven charges of obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering, CNN reported. He has asked for a new trial. When asked if he would consider pardoning Stone, Trump responded, “I haven’t given it any thought,” The New York Times reported.
  • The Boy Scouts of America said Tuesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the organization faces numerous sexual abuse lawsuits. In an early morning news release, the organization said it hoped to “equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come.” 'Tragically, there have been times when individuals took advantage of the BSA’s programs to harm children,' the news release said. 'The BSA firmly believes that a proposed Victims Compensation Trust structure is the best means of compensating victims in a way that is equitable and protects their identities.' During the process, the organization’s programs, meetings, activities, service projects and other events will continue “for many years to come,” the release said. “The BSA fully intends to maintain its commitments to its members, families, volunteer leaders, employees, retirees, donors and alumni to the fullest extent permitted by bankruptcy laws,” the organization added. In a letter to participants’ families, the organization also clarified that local councils have not filed for bankruptcy and “are legally separate, distinct and financially independent.” It also stressed that Boy Scouts of America has ramped up background checks and “developed some of the strongest expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization.” Read more here.
  • Officials are looking for a mountain lion that attacked a 6-year-old girl at a park in Cupertino, California, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to the Sacramento Bee, the incident happened Sunday morning as a group of visitors walked in Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve. The animal “came out of the bushes and ... grabbed a hold of the girl,” Ranger Brad Pennington told KGO-TV. An adult who was with the group punched the mountain lion, striking its ribs, the outlets reported. The girl suffered minor puncture wounds, officials said. Authorities have closed the park until they find the animal, the outlets reported. Read more here or here.
  • A woman in her 80’s died in a three car crash on A1A and L’Atrium in Ponte Vedra Beach on Monday night. According to Florida Highway Patrol, a vehicle headed north on A1A collided with a car that was making a left turn from A1A to L’Atrium Drive. A third car sustained minor damage from flying debris.  82-year-old Sarita May of Ponte Vedra Beach, who was a passenger in one of the cars, died. The driver, 74-year-old David Sparrow, sustained critical injuries.  The other drivers involved had minor injuries.  FHP says charges are pending additional investigation. 

The Latest News Videos