Authorities lost contact with the ship, which was making its way from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico, early on Thursday, at the height of the storm. According to the AP, the 790-foot El Faro would have been sailing through 20- to 30-foot waves.
In its last communication, officials said the crew had reported the ship had lost propulsion, had taken on water (which was being pumped successfully), and was listing 15 degrees, but that the list was “reported to be manageable.”
The ship’s owner, TOTE Maritime, describe the crew of 33—28 from the Unites States and five from Poland—as experienced and “more than equipped to handle situations such as changing weather.” The El Faro was carrying 294 cars below deck and 391 cargo containers above deck.
The Coast Guard’s search covers about 850 square nautical miles of ocean. “Obviously it’s very concerning that we have not found the ship and not had communications with the ship,” Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Commander Gabe Somma told the New York Post on Saturday.
The search had paused overnight. “There’s an operating limit to what we can go out in, and we were pushing the envelope” on Friday night, said Somma. “We were just fighting to get to the scene.” Efforts resumed early Saturday morning.