MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Coast Guard searched through the night for any sign of a cargo ship, or its crew, which disappeared last week when it crossed paths with Hurricane Joaquin.
Loved members of the crew members tell CBS4 they are praying for some good news.
Laurie Bobillo said she last heard from her daughter, 34-year-old Danielle Randolph from Rockland, Maine, by e-mail on Thursday. She said her daughter’s message said, “There is a hurricane out there and we are heading straight into it. Category Three. Last we checked, winds are super bad and seas are not great.”
Bobillo said “The blame that has to be done is on the hurricane, not the captain. The captain is looking out for his crew.”
Deb Roberts, the mother of missing sailor, 25-year-old Mike Holland, from Jay, Maine, said “It’s very difficult but I have to tell you that it is so supportive to be with the people that are going through the same thing as we are. That makes it, if you can say that, a little less heart wrenching.”
Roberts and other family members had gathered in Jacksonville, where the cargo ship was based.
“A lot of people have changed their profile picture to Mike’s graduation picture so when they open up my Facebook page, I see it’s like all my post, because it’s my baby’s picture there. So it’s just been amazing.”
Mary Shevory, the mother of another crew member, said “I hope they find the ship and everybody on it and they bring my daughter home. That’s all I can think of to say. I’m just praying to God they bring all of them home.”
Early Monday morning, the Coast Guard posted on Twitter a progress report of sorts.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) October 5, 2015
The El Faro, a 790 foot vessel, disappeared Thursday with 33 crew members on board. The ship was on a run from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Captain Mark Fedor, Coast Guard 7th District Chief of Response, said they began their search efforts on Friday but couldn’t get to the ship’s last know position because of Hurricane Joaquin.
On Saturday, the day they found a life guard ring from the El Faro, Fedor said they got to the ships last known position but the search conditions were horrible.
“We were facing 100 mph winds, 40 foot seas and less than a mile of visibility, so we really couldn’t get a good idea of what was out there,” said Fedor.
The following day was the first day they had favorable search conditions, according to Fedor.
Sunday’s search at turned up items around the southern Bahamas, like multiple life jackets and shipping containers, but it’s not known if those items are from the El Faro. They also recovered a life boat which had El Faro’s markings on it.
“It was heavily damaged but it was recovered and there were no signs of life,” said Fedor.
Fedor said moving forward they are working under the assumption that the El Faro sunk at or near its last known position. They are now focusing their efforts on finding any signs of survivors.
During Sunday’s search, the Coast Guard received a number of reports about survival suits that were floating in the water, life rafts and life boats. Fedor said they checked on each report.
“In one of the survival suits we did identify human remains. We lowered a rescue swimmer to confirm that the person was deceased and they were basically unidentifiable,” said Fedor. “We needed to move from there quickly because there were other reports of survival suits, life rafts and life boats. We checked those methodically and there were no other signs of life.”
Fedor said crews will be focusing Monday on two debris fields in the southern Bahamas, one of which is more than 300 nautical square miles.