Coast Guard crews locate El Faro life ring

MIAMI, Fla. – Crews searching for the missing container ship that left Jacksonville on Tuesday have located a life ring confirmed to belong to the ship.

As the search continued Saturday for the El Faro ship with 33 crew members, an airplane involved in the search located a life ring from the ship about 75 miles northeast of the ship's last known position, the Coast Guard said in a press release. A Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter recovered the life ring and confirmed it belonged to the missing ship.

"It validates our search efforts and while we are disappointed we did not find the ship today we are hopeful," US Coast Guard Spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said. "Tomorrow we will have three C-130's flying and the Navy will be assisting again with a P-8 aircraft."

El Faro was headed from Jacksonville's Blount Island to Puerto Rico, and lost contact somewhere near the Crooked Islands in the Bahamas. At the time the ship would have been passing by the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.

Terri Davis' husband Larry is one of the crew members on the El Faro, which was last heard from on Thursday.

"They told us as much as they know. They're doing everything they can. Mother nature does what mother nature does and if you can't get in there to find them. You can't get in there to find them," Davis said.

"We all need prayers, that's all you can do. We're waiting, everybody's waiting,but I'm confident," Davis said.

The Coast Guard is confident as well.

"The Coast Guard has been doing search and rescue for 200 years. It's the main thing we do so trust in the United States Coast Guard. We are doing everything we can to bring back everyone alive," said Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash, Coast Guard spokesman.

Coast Guard search crews covered more than 850 square nautical miles Friday, but hurricane force winds and 20 to 30-foot swells hampered search efforts.

"One of our major concerns is obviously the weather. It makes it more difficult to search, as the weather moves northward it provides more of an opportunity to get more assets on scene," Nash said.

The Coast Guard tells News4Jax the crew reported taking on water at last communication.

"There are lots of things that go into commercial shipping including life boats. The crew is also trained on preventing flooding and different emergency settings to better help themselves because the sea is a very unforgiving place," Nash said.

We have not confirmed how many lifeboats are on the ship, but we are told they are made to withstand rough seas and high waves.               

TOTE Inc., which owns the El Faro has set up a family hotline phone number. (844) 797-2706. It has also set up a website where it will publish information on the search efforts. http://elfaroincident.com                                  

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