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Was it the captain’s fault, as many said? Or did the company, the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping all have a hand on the helm of the SS El Faro as she steered too close to Hurricane Joaquin? This is an examination of a tragedy that has been well-researched and investigated — heroically so at times — by the United States Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. Three very well-done books have been published. All of these efforts produced detailed recommendations and observations and all are publicly available. I commend them to you.
My effort touches on the broad sweep and events of the tragedy and investigation, but if you want the detailed story of the final voyage of the ship, you’re better off with the other books. My main goal here is to show how the SS El Faro fit into a larger system and culture — one that I have been covering off and on as a journalist and author for 38 years.