The cargo ship El Faro sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015 after running head-on into Hurricane Joaquin; all 33 crewmembers died. (US Navy photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A second round of investigative hearings into the sinking of the freighter El Faro starts Monday and will seek new information about the vessel’s stability and whether there were mistakes in weather forecasting or cargo loading before the ship’s final voyage.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation begins interviewing witnesses in Jacksonville, Florida, at 9 a.m.

The ship lost propulsion and sank Oct. 1 after getting caught in a Category 4 hurricane while sailing between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. All 33 aboard died in the worst commercial maritime disaster for a U.S.-flagged ship since the Marine Electric sank off the coast of Virginia in 1983.

Search crews recently discovered the El Faro’s voyage data recorder at the wreckage site near the Bahamas in 15,000 feet of water, but they still have not recovered it.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which will also participate in the hearings, said it is still planning a recovery mission for the device, which could hold recordings from the bridge and data key to understanding final decisions made during the last voyage.

The Coast Guard says a third, future round of hearings will explore the recorder’s data if the device is recovered.


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