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El FaroThe Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO expresses its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the crew of the El Faro, a U.S.-flag merchant vessel that disappeared off the coast of the Bahamas on Thursday.

The vessel – with 17 members of the Seafarers Union, 11 members of the American Maritime Officers and five Polish nationals aboard – lost propulsion according to its last message and got caught in the winds and high seas caused by category 4 Hurricane Joaquin.

“There are no words that can adequately express the grief and sorrow at this time,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco, who also serves as President of the Seafarers. “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who sailed aboard the El Faro.

“We will never forget the men and women from the El Faro’s final voyage,” added Sacco.

The roll-on, roll-off vessel set sail on September 29 from Jacksonville, Florida, en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Storm warnings had been posted for what would become Hurricane Joaquin when the ship set sail. The vessel was expected to reach San Juan on October 2.

The MTD thanks all Coast Guard, Air Force and Navy personnel, all civilian mariners and everyone else involved in searching for the vessels and its crew during harrowing conditions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.