WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2015 – A U.S. cargo ship with 28 Americans among the crew is missing in the Bermuda Triangle just north of Crooked Island in the Bahamas. It has not been contacted since Thursday morning.
In its last contact at 7:30 a.m. Thursday the ship’s crew reported that it had experienced engine failure and was taking on water in 20- to 30-foot seas while caught in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, where wind speeds were reported at up to 125 mph.
The 735-foot ship, the El Faro and its crew of 33 was heading from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Juan, Puerto Rico when it reported it was listing 15 degrees and being battered by 20- to 30-foot waves. Joaquin was a category 4 storm.
The ship was carrying 391 containers and almost 300 autos in its hold It began taking on water after experiencing engine failure. A ship caught without propulsion in the midst of a hurricane puts the ship and its crew in enormous danger.
Coast Guard vessels have been dispatched to the area and have thus far searched 850 nautical square miles before the search was called off Friday night. Search efforts were resumed Saturday morning, but conditions remained difficult, with three C-130s, a helicopter and Navy airplane joining.
The Bermuda Triangle is notorious for mysterious ship and aircraft disappearance events across the decades, and the lack of any communications since Thursday or the activation of satellite beacons is extremely troubling.
As far back as 1492, Christopher Columbus reported unusual compass readings in the area. In 1918 the USS Cyclops, a 552-foot coal carrying ship, vanished without a trace, taking 306 lives with it. No wreckage was ever found.
In 1948 a Douglas DC-3 with 32 passengers on board disappeared 50 miles from Miami, and no trace of the plane or its passengers was ever located.
Most famously, a flight of five Avenger torpedo bombers, the legendary Flight 19, vanished while taking part in aerial exercises over the triangle. No wreckage was ever found, and, to make matters worse, one of the search planes also disappeared.