Inner Space Center helps locate black box from El Faro shipwreck

The Inner Space Center (ISC) has been working in conjunction with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship. The 790-foot cargo ship sank off the Bahamas  during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015.

NTSB has been interested in finding the “black box” (the voyage data recorder) from the ship to further their investigations of the wreck. They are hoping the black box will reveal what was happening mechanically prior to the ship’s sinking. It may also contain audio recordings of the vessel’s captain and crew.

Dr. Dwight Coleman, Director of the ISC, worked with NTSB and WHOI to install telepresence technologies on WHOI’s research vessel Atlantis.  WHOI’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Sentry, collected sonar data and high-resolution photographs of the ship’s 13.5-square mile debris field. The ISC’s telepresence technologies transmitted these images, in real time from the R/V Atlantis, to on-shore investigators, while also allowing for quick and efficient two-way communications between those on board the ship and the team at NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, DC. On Tuesday, April 26 , the black box was located, a critical discovery.

Later this week,  NTSB and WHOI plan to deploy  a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to collect the black box. The ISC hopes to use telepresence technologies to assist with future investigations.

Featured image (above): Stern of El Faro shipwreck. Image courtesy National Transportation Safety Board.

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