ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
73°
Partly Cloudy
H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 92° L 77°
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
“Think this just got worse”: New portions of El Faro’s ‘black box’ transcribed
Close

“Think this just got worse”: New portions of El Faro’s ‘black box’ transcribed

“Think this just got worse”: New portions of El Faro’s ‘black box’ transcribed
Photo Credit: US Navy Supervisor of Salvage
El Faro's Voyage Data Recorder capsule being recovered from the ocean floor

“Think this just got worse”: New portions of El Faro’s ‘black box’ transcribed

The transcript for the Voyage Date Recorder that was aboard El Faro was already the longest the NTSB had ever assembled, and now it had grown even more.

The NTSB says, since the initial release of the VDR- or black box- transcript in December 2016, investigators continued to gather facts and analyze information. They then held additional listening sessions, and that has now resulted in the release of four additional transcript sections.

VOYAGE DATA RECORDER: Details from the transcript of the crew’s final hours

The new releases are brief, totaling less than three of the more than five hundred pages of the transcript overall. Despite that, they appear to speak directly to some of the areas investigators have been probing.

El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015, killing all 33 people on board. The ship was heavily loaded while transiting from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. It had taken on water, had a substantial list, and lost propulsion ahead of the Captain’s final shoreside communication and, ultimately, the sinking.

FULL COVERAGE: The sinking of El Faro

The first insertion is a conversation between the Third Mate and Third Helmsman on El Faro at 11:43AM on September 30th, the day before El Faro sank. Leading up to this new addition the two spoke about a few things, including that a dentist had prescribed the Third Mate a narcotic- although it’s unclear whether that was a current prescription or in the past. They spoke about drug testing and the potential to look “pretty happy”. The conversation then turned to Hurricane Joaquin, with some shock at the wind gusts the storm was producing, but belief they wouldn’t feel those peak conditions.

Then comes the new addition, where the Third Mate comments that the Port Engineer has one ship and questions what that position pays. The Third Mate further says he has no idea if the Port Engineer was a Chief Engineer prior or was even licensed.

“he really doesn’t seem to do anything or know anything.” says the Third Mate, according to the transcript.

The Third Helmsman then questions how many people “look important”, but don’t know what to do, and the Third Mate responded with a comment about salaries that wasn’t completely transcribed.

This exchange could speak to a few areas that investigators have been examining, including the competency, responsibility, and workload of some shoreside employees. There has also been an examination of crew morale, and questioning the abilities and salaries of someone in the corporate structure could speak to that.

GALLERY: Tributes to the El Faro crew

About 15 minutes later in the day- right around noon- is another new insertion, this time in a conversation between the Second Mate and the Second Helmsman. This portion directly preceeded the Second Mate saying El Faro needed to get where they were going “in one piece”.

“who cares what time we get there as long as we get there.” The transcript says.

The newly transcribed portion shows the two apparently looking at one of the readouts that mapped the ship and time. They appear to be tracking the ship’s location at different times over the coming hours.

There are various things talked about over the next two hours or so, but the third new transcript insertion comes around 1:40PM when concern was clearly building.

“think this just got worse.” the Second Mate said, according to the transcript.

The conversation immediately before and after those comments was not transcribed, so it’s unclear what specifically the Second Mate was speaking about, but the context indicates she is referring to Hurricane Joaquin or the ship’s track compared to the storm.  In the lead up to the new insertion, the Second Mate had been talking to the Captain about the storm and the potential to take an alternate route on the return journey. After the new portion, the Second Mate makes comments about the weather getting better when the ship moves past the storm.

The errors in the storm forecasting and problems with one of the ship’s on board weather systems have been frequently scrutinized throughout the investigation. There have additionally been questions about whether the Captain was truly empowered to change the ship’s route as he saw fit, or if he needed approval from officials on shore.

GALLERY: El Faro’s wreckage

The final insertion was the morning of the sinking, around 5:45AM.

“we got cars loose. yeah.” The Captain said, according to the transcript.

The Captain made this remark soon after telling the Chief Mate to head down to check out flooding in a hold, which they believed to be the result of a blown scuttle. The transcript previously showed that cars had at least been bobbing in the water, and that there were some other cargo problems including some broken cords to refrigerated containers, leaning containers, and likely containers in the water.

Investigators have already raised significant questions about the lashing protocols, the calculations that were and were not being used in stacking, and the training cargo loading crews were given specific to the cargo protocols on each ship.

NTSB INVESTIGATION: Factual reports examine aspects of ship operations and sinking

The NTSB has already released several “Factual Reports” as part of their ongoing investigation. More are expected to be issued in the coming days and weeks, ahead of the release of their full report later this year.

The NTSB did issue ten recommendations dealing with mariner safety in June, despite the fact that their investigation was still ongoing. In presenting the recommendations, the NTSB noted they could have an impact specifically in the hurricane season, so they did not want to wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The quotes in this story come directly from the VDR transcript. We have inserted the quotes as they appear in the transcript, including in regard to capitalization.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • A self-identified California survivalist was sentenced Monday to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole, in the murders of a couple sleeping on a beach in 2004, as well as the 2017 murder of his own brother. Shaun Michael Gallon, 40, pleaded no contest last month to the murders of Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and Jason Allen, 26, who were shot to death between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2004, as they slept on Fish Head Beach near Jenner in Sonoma County. The case remained unsolved until 2017, when Gallon was accused of using a rifle to kill his younger brother, 36-year-old Shamus Gallon, in the Forestville home they shared with their mother. Following his arrest, Shaun Gallon confessed to the Allen-Cutshall homicides. He pleaded no contest June 13 to all three killings. At the time, Sonoma County officials said there was no apparent motive for Gallon to shoot his brother. “There doesn’t appear to be an altercation of any significance that led to the shooting,” Sgt. Spencer Crum told the Press Democrat. Even prior to his brother’s slaying, Shaun Gallon’s name had long been on law enforcement’s radar. The San Francisco Chronicle reported he was well-known for his erratic behavior, and his rap sheet was a long one. He was convicted in 2009 of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting an arrow at a man in Guerneville, the Chronicle reported. His Facebook page shows multiple photos of homemade bows and arrows, as well as a photo of hiself with a spear he made. “Further, Gallon was also alleged to have attempted to kill a Monte Rio man in June 2004 by using a disguised homemade explosive device, and seriously injuring a second unintended victim when it detonated,” a news release from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office read. Gallon was charged in 2017 with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as possession of an illegal assault rifle, the district attorney said. The charges to which Gallon pleaded no contest are lengthy, court records show. “There were multiple special allegations and enhancements alleged against Gallon, including that he murdered multiple victims, that he committed great bodily injury on those victims, that he used a firearm to inflict great bodily injury on each of his murder victims and that he had suffered a prior ‘strike’ conviction in 2009 for assault with a deadly weapon,” Ravitch’s news release said. “In his change of pleas, Gallon admitted all charges and enhancements.” Gallon waived all rights of appeal by entering into the plea agreement. Ravitch said the agreement was reached after a review of the records, a review of mitigating material offered by the defense and talks with the victims’ families, as well as the surviving victims of Gallon’s prior crimes. Photos recovered from their camera shows they took photos of one another in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the newspaper reported. They then headed north in Cutshall’s red 1992 Ford Tempo for the Sonoma coast, where they found themselves in Jenner, a village Allen had visited a few years earlier. Several witnesses, some conflicting, reported seeing the couple along the way as they stopped for gas and other items. A front desk clerk at the Jenner Inn told police the couple showed up there either Friday, Aug. 13, or the following night. Though the couple ate at the inn, there were no available rooms, so they said they would camp outdoors instead, the Chronicle said. The manager, who declined to give her name, said she chatted with the couple again the following morning when they came in for breakfast. “I asked them if they were having fun,” the woman told the newspaper. “They said they stopped in San Francisco. They were just a happy couple trying to get away for the weekend.” Various accounts indicate Allen and Cutshall were told Fish Head Beach would be a good spot to camp, even though it was illegal to sleep on the beach there.  Police believe it was the night of Aug. 14, 2004, when the couple parked Cutshall’s Tempo in a pullout along nearby Highway 1 before setting up their gear on the beach. According to Sonoma magazine, both made notations in a visitor’s log kept near the beach. “As I stir this mac and cheese, I think to myself, ‘What a wonderful life,’” Allen wrote. “I’ve just spent two awesome days with my fiancée, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it.” “The sun is going down in the horizon,” Cutshall wrote, according to the magazine. “All I see is the beams shining on the cliff face. And I know that God is awesome. I look around and I see his creation all around me.” Authorities believe the couple was killed, each by a single rifle shot to the head, that night or early the following morning as they slept in their sleeping bags, their Bible nearby. Family and friends grew concerned when the couple had not turned up back at the Christian camp by Sunday. According to the Chronicle, Lindsay was due to fly home a week later to begin planning her wedding. A missing person report was filed Monday, Aug. 16, by friends at the camp. The couple's bodies were found two days later, first spotted by deputies in a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department helicopter sent up to search for a man stuck on a cliff near Jenner, the Chronicle reported. Instead, the spotters saw two bodies in bloodstained sleeping bags. With no apparent motive -- there were no signs of robbery or sexual assault at the scene -- detectives were stymied for years. It would take another 13 years before investigators learned what happened or why. ‘I went crazy’  A Sonoma County Probation Department report, obtained by the Press Democrat, paints a disturbing portrait of Gallon’s life and shows ways in which his family shielded him from arrest before he killed his brother. Gallon’s father, David Gallon, admitted to police he got rid of his son’s guns in 2004, a week after Allen and Cutshall were found slain. Shaun Gallon, who had been arrested on unrelated weapons charges, called his father and asked him to dispose of the weapons. David Gallon told investigators he did so “because he feared (Shaun) Gallon was unstable,” the document says. The records show Shaun Gallon became a potential suspect in the double homicide on the beach after deputies found him near a beach in Guerneville with a loaded, stolen gun in the pocket of his camouflage jumpsuit.
  • Unionized campaign organizers employed by Sen. Bernie Sanders are demanding an increase in pay, saying the presidential candidate is not paying them fairly, according to a story in The Washington Post. Campaign staffers have complained to Sanders’ campaign manager that they are receiving “poverty wages,” and they are asking for pay equivalent to a $15-an-hour average wage.  Sanders, I-Vermont, has for years advocated for a federal minimum wage of at least $15 an hour. The staffers union has been negotiating with Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir, according to the Post story. The conflict over pay, according to the story, “dates back to at least May and remains unresolved.” The newspaper’s reporting came from emails exchanged between the employees, the union and Shakir. The documents, the story said, were provided to the Post “on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the private talks.” >> Read more trending news  Late Thursday, Shakir issued this statement in response to the story: “We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports. Every member of the campaign, from the candidate on down, joined this movement in order to defeat Donald Trump and transform America. Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president. We have tremendous staff who are working hard. Bernie and I both strongly believe in the sanctity of the collective bargaining process and we will not deviate from our commitment to it.” The union representing Sanders' campaign workers, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, did not comment on the negotiations, according to the Post story. Four Democratic campaigns – those of Eric Swalwell, who left the race last week, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Sanders – announced that their staffs would be represented by a union, a first for presidential campaigns. “We’re honored that his (Sanders) campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” Shakir said in a statement in March. Everyone on Sanders’ campaign under the rank of deputy director would be represented by a union, per the agreement first announced in March. Field organizers were to be paid not by the hour, but by a straight salary of $36,000 a year, according to their original employment agreement. According to a draft of a letter to Shakir from the staffers, field organizers were working at least 60 hours per week, putting their average hourly pay at less than $13. “Given our campaign’s commitment to fighting for a living wage of at least $15 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team,” the letter reads. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure this week that would raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. The bill has been sent to the Senate. Sanders has introduced a bill on the Senate floor that would make the federal minimum wage at least $15 an hour. According to the Post story, in May, Shakir recommended raising the pay for field organizers to $42,000 and changing the workweek specifications. According to the union, Shakir was seeking to extend the workweek to six days. The union is asking for health care benefits to be increased and for reimbursement of mileage at 58 cents per mile.
  • President Donald Trump plans to nominate lawyer Eugene Scalia, son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to serve as his next labor secretary, according to an announcement posted Thursday on Twitter. >> Read more trending news  Scalia, 55, is a partner in the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he specializes in administrative law and handles cases related to labor and employment, according to The Washington Post and NPR. He previously served as solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor under President George W. Bush. He also served as special assistant to Attorney General William Barr during his previous tenure as Bush's attorney general. 'I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor,' Trump wrote Thursday in a Twitter post.  'Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.'  Scalia has long represented companies that have pushed back against unions and strengthening labor laws, The New York Times reported. In 2005, he was hired by Walmart after former employees sued the company, claiming they had been illegally fired for whistle-blowing, according to NPR. His nomination is likely to get some pushback from Democrats, though he's expected to be easily confirmed in the Republican-controlled Senate, according to the Times and the Post. If confirmed, Scalia will replace outgoing Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who announced his resignation last week amid criticism of his handling of a secret 2008 plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein. The deal, which came under renewed scrutiny after federal authorities revealed new sex trafficking charges against Epstein last week, allowed the 66-year-old to avoid significant jail time and federal prosecution after he was accused of molesting teenage girls. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will serve as acting secretary of labor after his resignation goes into effect Friday. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Today will be hot and humid with highs in the lower to mid 90’s inland and near 90 at the coast. There will be scattered afternoon thunderstorms today. Feels-like temps will once again be 100-103 inland and 100+ at the coast.  Showers and storms may dampen some early tailgaters for The Rolling Stones concert (2-5 pm).  Showers and any thunderstorms should either be out of Duval County or loosing steam by 6 pm.  CONTEST:  Pick what song you want to hear The Stones play This weekend the heat and humidity stick around with highs in the mid 90’s with only a few widely scattered showers and storms. The mid 90’s hang around on Monday.  INDEPTH:  What you need to know if you are going to the concert
  • An airman was reportedly shot in the leg Thursday night at Nellis Air Force Base. >>Read more trending news The airman was taken to a hospital with survivable injuries, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Adrian Beas told The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear. Police were called shortly after 9:30 p.m. and found the injured airman near the O’Callaghan Federal Hospital, Beas said. Police and base personnel are investigating how the shooting happened, KVVU-TV reported.

The Latest News Videos