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Storm avoidance is a life-saving skill at sea: NTSB

Amidst ongoing investigation into the sinking of the El Faro in 2015 claiming lives of all the 33 crew members during Hurricane Joaquin, the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board has issued 10 safety recommendations as the hurricane season begins.

“As we enter the 2017 hurricane season we are reminded of the power and devastation associated with these storms,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Storm avoidance is a life-saving skill at sea. And having frequent, up-to-date and reliable weather information is key to effective storm avoidance – and to saving lives.”

The recommendations aim at enhancing the availability of weather information to the mariners.

The NTSB typically releases safety recommendations at the conclusion of an investigation but can issue them at any point in the investigative process. But after noting how Hurricane Joaquin and several other major storms had significantly deviated from their forecasts, NTSB investigators have determined that a new emphasis on improving tropical cyclone forecasting was warranted.

“We are getting these recommendations out as the hurricane season begins so that the work on these safety improvements can start immediately,” said Sumwalt.

The El Faro investigation is expected to be completed later this year when investigators will present their findings to NTSB Members who will determine the accident’s probable cause and contributing factors in a public meeting in Washington, D.C.

The topic of weather forecasting and routing are obviously critical components of the ongoing investigations by both the NTSB and the U.S. Coast Guard into the sinking.


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