U.S. Coast Guard spokesman petty officer Jon-Paul Rios confirmed the missing cargo ship with 28 Americans and five Polish nationals on board has likely sunk. Rios said during a news conference Monday morning there was still an active search and rescue operation for the El Faro because the crew are “trained mariners who know how to abandon ship” and they “will not discount someone’s will to survive.”
The ship vanished Thursday en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida as Hurricane Joaquin was pounding the Bahamas. Officials said they received notification that the ship had lost power around 7 a.m. ET Thursday near Crooked Island in the eastern Bahamas, which was one of the hardest hit islands. In addition to the crew, the 735-foot El Faro was carrying 294 trailers and automobiles in its hold, in addition to the 391 shipping containers on-deck, as it battled 20 to 30 foot seas.
The news comes after search crews reported spotting two debris fields on Sunday. The first was a 225-square-mile field of Styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items near the ship’s last known position. Earlier in the day, “multiple items” were seen in the water just before noon. Those items included containers, loose deck materials and oil sheen, crew members told WMTW-TV in Maine.