This is from the MBI hearings, the second mate who was with Davison is being interviewed about the diversion for Erika.
2 CDR Denning: Have you ever proposed an alternate route from Jacksonville to San
WIT: Yes I have, many times.
2 CDR Denning: So just a minute ago we had up Exhibit 2, we don’t need to bring it up
3 again unless you feel there would value in that, we can if you would like, but regarding
4 that particular exhibit and it showed in the green line the alternate route taken in August,
5 August 25 th to 28 th for Tropical Storm Erika, do you recall that particular voyage?
6 WIT: Yes I do.
7 CDR Denning: In order to take that alternate route through the Florida Straits and Old
8 Bahama Channel, was it your suggestion or was it Captain Davidson’s suggest to take
9 that particular route?
10 WIT: It was my suggestion, sir.
11 CDR Denning: And why did you prefer that particular route under those
13 WIT: Well under this particular situation we had six Polish laborers and we had two
Chief Engineers riding with us who were doing work converting, you know working on
15 the El Faro to convert it to the Alaska trade. If we were going to go through a tropical
16 storm we would rolling and pitching and nobody would be able to do any work. So I
17 suggested to the Captain that we take an alternate route where we could – where the
18 eight people could actually work as opposed to not being able to work on the way to
19 San Juan.
20 CDR Denning: What weather information were you utilizing to help you make that
WIT: I was using a, called BVS, it’s our weather, our ready – weather routing service. I
2 also looked at the weather channel while we were in port, we have satellite TV. And we
3 have telexes that come in with the weather for the tropical areas.
4 CDR Denning: Do you recall what the forecast were for Erika at that point and time
5 that helped you lead – helped lead you to this decision?
6 WIT: I think it was forecasted as a tropical storm, it was hurricane class 1, maybe 1 to
7 2, but it was in our line of position. We would have to go right through it or close to it
8 and it would have been too rough to really to do any work. And the alternate route
9 doesn’t add that much time to your trip, maybe 150 miles.
10 CDR Denning: How much level of protection do the Islands, the Bahamas provide
11 you? If there was a storm that did proceed along, let’s say your normal track such that
12 you would have to go directly through it and you chose to take the Old Bahama
13 Channel, would the Islands provide you a lee?
14 WIT: The Islands are our savior, yes. We would still get the winds, but we wouldn’t get
the high seas. We wouldn’t get the roll.
16 CDR Denning: Did Tropical Storm Erika acting the way the forecast predicted?
17 WIT: For the most part yes. We were able to avoid all the heavy weather. We got
18 some high winds, but the ships made to sustain that.
19 CDR Denning: When you made the suggestion for the alternate route to Captain
20 Davidson, how did he – how was that received by him?
21 WIT: It was received well. We always discussed our – what route we were going to
22 take, especially if there was weather involved.
CDR Denning: Was there any push back from him, any hesitation to take that route
2 versus the most economical route?
3 WIT: No. He didn’t give me a decision right away. He thought about it, but within an
4 hour or so I had my alternate route planned and entered into our GPS’s.
5 CDR Denning: Do you happen to know if he consulted with Tote before making the
6 final decision?
7 WIT: No I do not know that.
8 CDR Denning: Did he mention anything to you about how the company might feel
9 about taking an alternate route?
WIT: No, not at all.
11 CDR Denning: Did you hear anything after the fact from Captain Davidson about any
12 reaction from Tote on taking the alternate route?
13 WIT: No, I heard no repercussions.
14 CDR Denning: To your knowledge since the El Faro incident, has Tote issued any
15 guidance, whether it’s informal or formal, to the Masters and Mates regarding voyage
16 planning? Well let’s go back. Since Erika, since this voyage where you deviated for
17 Tropical Storm Erika, let’s go back to there. Did Tote issue any guidance to vessels
18 after the deviation voyage?
19 WIT: I don’t recall anything more or less than what they would normally send us. They
20 would send us tropical storm updates just to keep us informed.
21 CDR Denning: So you say they normally sent tropical storm updates, is that in addition
22 to the safety alert that was received in August