SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Obliviously Sailing Into Danger

By Donald A. Moskowitz


October 23, 2015
Friday AM

As a former naval officer who was an officer of the deck underway, navigator, and meteorology officer, and on track for ship command, I am appalled by the decision of the Captain of the El Faro container ship to head into a ferocious storm at sea.
The Captain departed Jacksonville, FL on September 29, 2015 on a southeasterly course for San Juan, PR. This course took the ship on a track near the Bahama Islands and straight into the storm. At the time of sailing the storm was designated a tropical storm with winds of around 45 or 50 knots and seas running about 20 or 25 feet. Soon after the ship left port the storm intensified to hurricane strength, and the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning, which the El Faro should have received, forecasting winds of 125 knots and seas of 40 to 50 feet.

Apparently, the ship lost propulsion, which I assume occurred within the hurricane due to the pounding of the ship and probable flooding. The ship would then be in the trough of the waves, and with a top heavy load of containers, it could have rolled over and sank.

The shipping company had a responsibility to ensure the ship’s Captain was aware of the potential danger. If the shipping company provided any coercion or threatened the Captain if he refused to go to sea, the owners of the shipping company could have criminal liability for the sinking of the ship. In any case, the Captain, who was hired by the shipping company; and owners of the vessel, are responsible for the safety of the ship and crew.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH
Former AG2 and LT, U.S. Navy


Received October 22, 2015 - Published October 23, 2015



Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Representations of fact and opinions in letters are solely those of the author.
The opinions of the author do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2014
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.