TOTE, Inc. said it has reached settlements with the families of crew members who perished when the cargo ship El Faro
sank on Oct. 1, 2015 while passing through Hurricane Joaquin near Crooked Island, Bahamas on its way from Jacksonville, Fla. to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Since the loss of the El Faro
, we have focused every effort on supporting the families of those on board. An important part of this support has entailed reaching fair and swift legal settlements for those who may choose them," the company said.
“We can confirm that we have settled financially with all families through a respectful, equitable and meaningful mediation process, and have reached a full and final settlement of all claims filed in this action consistent with the prior settlements reached in this matter,” it added. "We stress that our support of all the families will continue. Out of respect for the legal process and the privacy of the families, we will not discuss the specifics of any individual settlements."
All 33 persons on board died when the ship sank, including 28 crew members and five Polish shipyard workers who were readying the vessel for maintenance work at a shipyard.
The widow of Frank J. Hamm, an able bodied seaman who perished in the incident, has started an online petition to try and get the federal government to pass laws that would place tighter control over shipping operations in an effort to prevent similar tragedies.
Rochelle Hamm’s petition on change.org
says the sinking “could have been prevented with more oversight of shipping companies, similar to air traffic controllers for planes, to stop companies from sending ships into dangerous weather.”
Mr. Hamm was one of the crewmen on the bridge of the ship and at the helm during the final hours of El Faro
’s voyage, as detailed in a story published by the Associated Press this week
Ms. Hamm’s petition is asking Congress to:
• Require vessels take diversionary routes to avoid storms, instead of leaving those decisions up to the master of the ship and his company;
• Not allow ships to depart sailing into the direction of a storm or hurricane;
• Require ships to have Coast Guard-approved enclosed lifeboats equipped with survival supplies;
• Conduct a review and modification of standards for commercial vessels;
• And institute tougher standards for commissioning vessels after rebuilds or revisions.