JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When an initial report arrived saying the captain of the ship El Faro had called ashore for help, the U.S. Coast Guard didn't believe the vessel was at risk of sinking and later had software problems while preparing a response plan.
Still, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Chancery testified Wednesday at an investigative hearing that the ship's distress was soon clear and that software issues did not delay search efforts.
El Faro sank in a hurricane Oct. 1 after losing propulsion near the Bahamas. All 33 aboard died.
Chancery said a representative for the ship's owner, Tote Inc., led the Coast Guard to believe initially that the ship was disabled but could fix its problems.
Chancery said once he heard the ship's electronic distress alert, he became "very alarmed."