El Faro Updates & Communications
Oct. 7 | 4:30 pm Tote Services Inc. will hold a press conference
Oct. 7 | 4:15 pm Press Conference – President Brennan at Maine Maritime Academy
Oct. 7 | 3:00 pm Press Briefing – USCG will hold a joint press briefing with the NTSB – Partial recording here
Oct. 6 | 8:00 pm Raw Video – NTSB vice chair on El Faro investigation – Click Here
Oct. 4 | 10:00 am USCG Press Conference – Click Here
Communications from President Brennan:
Message #7 | Oct 8
The list of the crew of the El Faro was released yesterday by TOTE Maritime and I regret to share with the Maine Maritime Academy family that another friend, colleague, and alumnus, Mitchell Kuflik, Class of 2011, was a member of the El Faro crew. The extended Academy community is grieving the loss of another mariner and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. The complete list of Maine Maritime Academy graduates who were aboard El Faro includes Mike Davidson, Class of 1988; Danielle Randolph, Class of 2005; Mitchell Kuflik, Class of 2011; Mike Holland, Class of 2012; and Dylan Meklin, Class of 2015. Our hearts are heavy. The outpouring of fellowship and support of the entire maritime family is felt here in Castine.
Press Conference | Oct 7
Hello—I’m Dr. Bill Brennan, President of Maine Maritime Academy.
Today, I sent an announcement to the Maine Maritime Academy Community to say that the news we have been anxiously waiting to hear about the crew of the El Faro will not come. Unfortunately, we are now faced with news that none of us wanted to hear.
The U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference at 3:00 pm to announce that at sunset today they will suspend their search for the missing crew members of El Faro.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of all of the crew. Our thoughts have been with them and will continue to be with them.
Our community will grieve this together. Our students know that I am here to support them, as are the staff and faculty and the wider community of Castine. We will stand together and we will go on.
Those of us who sail on ships know that while the sea is to be respected, the sea is not to be feared. That is why we train, that is why we prepare; that is why we are here.
We have lost friends, colleagues, and alumni. We honor them best by continuing to commit to the excellence they bravely pursued. We honor them best by continuing to dedicate our diligence to that which was their passion.
And we honor them best by steeling our individual and community resolve to educate and train for a world full of perils; not just for those at sea, but for those that find us wherever we may go in our lives.
For this terrible tragedy reminds us that nothing in life is certain; that risk lurks at every turn; and that peril can and often does indiscriminately call upon each one of us. It is indeed at times like these that we must recognize the commonality of all risk, and draw upon each other to resurrect our strength, and therefrom emerge with an even greater courage and resolve.
The Alfond Student Center will be open for the rest of the day and evening for our students, faculty and staff to gather and support one another.
And now I have a special message for you, the media: the other day at our community gathering I thanked the media for the respect you have shown this community. I ask that you continue to respect us and recognize that we are all grieving. And I ask that you be especially respectful of my kids.
These students – my students need the opportunity to understand this and to understand the grief that they feel and I ask that you respect their privacy while they grieve.
I’m willing to hear your questions.
Message #6 | Oct. 7
We have been anxiously waiting to hear more about the crew of the El Faro, and unfortunately, we are now faced with news that none of us wanted to hear. The U.S. Coast Guard will hold a press conference at 3:00 pm today, and I understand that they will announce that at sunset they will suspend their search.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of all of the crew members of El Faro.
Our community will grieve this together. I am here to support you, as are the staff and faculty. We will stand together and we will go on.
As I told you last night, we are mariners. Those of us who sail on ships know that while the sea is to be respected, the sea is not to be feared. That is why we train, that is why we prepare; that is why we are here.
The Alfond Student Center is open now, throughout this afternoon and into the evening for all to gather. Come when you can, as you can, the doors will be open and staff and faculty will be there to offer any guidance or help you may need.
It may not be clear to you what you need now, or in the coming days. Just know that we help each other and support one another. We are one community, we are mariners.
With sadness in my heart,
Message to community at vigil | Oct. 6
We are here because we are hopeful and I welcome you in that spirit. We are hopeful of a safe return for the crew of El Faro and for those who are part of the Maine Maritime Academy family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and with their families and loved ones.
But we are also here in the spirit of hope for ourselves. A hope that our heavy hearts will be unburdened by knowing that the human spirit IS the will to survive. It is the spirit that has caused the search and rescue to continue.
Yesterday during our community session, I reminded you of my oft repeated remarks – that we are one family, that we are one community, that we all mariners; that we help each other and support one another.
When the session was over; no one got up to leave. None of us wanted to depart. We were comforted by each other’s presence and the mere fact of our closeness was an embrace of spirit that helped provide the support that we as fragile creatures needed.
At the end of this vigil of hope, the Navy Hymn will be performed. The words to that hymn were written for a student who was about to set sail from England bound for America. The refrain in that hymn is “Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea.” It is an acknowledgement that the sea can be a dangerous place, fraught with perils; yet it is a message of hope.
We are mariners, those of us who sail on ships, know that while the sea is to be respected, the sea is not to be feared. That is why we train, that is why we prepare, that is why we exercise prudence and maintain a hand for our self and one for our vessel. That is why we lookout for our shipmates and why we help each other and support one another now and forever.
Our thoughts and our prayers are with the crew of El Faro, The Lighthouse, and we, the Maine Maritime Academy community is a family that stretches around the globe to ships at sea worldwide. We are a beacon of hope for the safe return of all mariners.
I appreciate that so many have come together for this evening’s vigil of hope.
A vigil of faith in the human spirit’s will to survive. Thank you.
Message #5 | Oct. 5
Statement to Students Regarding El Faro
Good afternoon. As you know, we have been anxiously awaiting news regarding the search and rescue effort to find the crew of El Faro. We are meeting today to provide information and resources and to answer questions as we are able. This meeting is for the MMA community. While members of the press are welcome to attend, we ask that the press hold any questions until a media briefing we will hold after this community meeting.
What I will share with you today is what we have been able to glean from official sources. We cannot speculate on what has been shared in the media, including social media.
The El Faro, a 735-foot cargo ship with 33 crewmembers aboard, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida. At approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard command center in Portsmouth, Virginia, received a satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list. The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained. Watchstanders at the Coast Guard command center in Miami launched an aircrew out of Clearwater, Florida, to search for the El Faro. Search conditions were severely affected by Hurricane Joaquin which limited visibility and hampered the search for several days.
El Faro is operated by Tote Maritime Puerto Rico. Tote has not yet released the names of the crew members other than to identify that the 33 member crew is composed of 28 Americans and 5 Polish nationals. Tote reached out to the families of the crew and is providing support services. As these families were contacted, we became aware that several members of the crew might be part of the MMA community and that several of our students had served on the crew of El Faro during cadet shipping.
Four Mainers have been identified in the media as possibly members of the crew and all four are graduates of the Academy. Again, we cannot confirm that they are members of the crew but their names have been widely publicized in the media. These four Mainers continue to have ties to the Academy but we are concerned, as merchant mariners, about ALL members of the crew. They have been identified in the media as:
- Mike Davidson, Class of 1988
- Danielle Randolph, Class of 2005
- Mike Holland, Class of 2012
- Dylan Meklin, Class of 2015
We are reaching out to the students we believe to have family connections to the crew to offer support to the families. However, because we do not have the actual crew list, we may have not have reached out to all of the most affected and I apologize in advance if we have missed anyone.
As the search conditions improved, debris was found in the search area, some of which was identified as belonging to El Faro. The Coast Guard in a briefing this morning at 10:00 stated that, in addition to debris, a life boat with no signs of life had been found as well as a survival suit that contained an unidentifiable body. Both Tote Maritime and the Coast Guard issued statements this morning that they assume that the ship has sunk. However, the Coast Guard continues to mount a search and rescue effort to find survivors and that is their focus.
At this point, we cannot speculate on what happened to the ship or comment on many other details. I ask you, however, to reflect on Coast Guard Captain Fedor’s closing remarks this morning – he said “We’re not going to discount somebody’s will to survive. That is why we are still searching today.”
Now I want to talk to you as members of our shared community. I have said to you often that this is a family; we are one community. We help each other and support one another. We are all Mariners and I know we are distressed by what we heard today, but we are also encouraged that the search and rescue effort continues.
When you began your time here at MMA, I joined you in a jump from our training ship. We did that for a number of reasons, including for comradery and esprit de corps. But, it was also done as part of your training for the careers at sea that many of you will pursue — it is rigorous and demanding training to be sure and it has a purpose, as this incident poignantly reminds us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the crew of the El Faro and their families and loved ones – we are all shipmates.
The name of the ship, El Faro means The Lighthouse – I ask this MMA community, a family that stretches around the globe to ships at sea worldwide — let us all become a beacon of hope for the safe return of her crew.
To provide support to our community while we await news, we have offered open counseling hours to students and student groups and I want to continue to emphasize that students should reach out to our counselor for support. The staff and faculty stand ready to support you should you wish to talk informally. We are also organizing a vigil of hope for 6:30 tomorrow evening in the yard between Leavitt Hall and the Student Center.
I would like to thank the media for their sensitivity and professionalism in understanding that this is a difficult time for our community, and I thank you for the respectful way in which you treated our students. At this point, I welcome questions from the MMA community, with the understanding that we may not be able to answer what is asked and I ask that the media hold their questions for our briefing following this meeting.
In closing, I am encouraged that the Search and Rescue effort continues and I remain hopeful. As additional information becomes available, I will update you.
Message #4 | Oct. 5
At 1600 this afternoon in the Harborview Room in Alfond Student Center, the Academy will hold a community informational meeting about the ongoing search and rescue efforts near the Bahamas for the crew of El Faro. Captain Gandy and I will share information, identify resources for support, and answer questions from the MMA community. Members of the press may attend this meeting but will be asked to hold their questions for a media briefing following the community meeting.
Message #3 | Oct. 5
Like you, I am distressed by what we learned from the U.S. Coast Guard’s 10:00 press conference that they believe the El Faro has sunk. However, I am encouraged that the Search and Rescue effort continues and I remain hopeful. As additional information becomes available, I will update you.
Message #2 | Oct. 5
The El Faro search and rescue mission continues and we are anxiously awaiting updates as each hour passes. I continue to feel hopeful and to remember that the crew is experienced and highly trained in survival at sea. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of all of the crew members who are waiting for news.
Media coverage of the search and rescue effort has been constant. Reporters have come to Castine and have talked with students and community members, wanting to tell more of the story. We will continue to have media on campus, so I want to encourage all members of the community to keep this in mind: when you speak about other people to a member of the press, your words will have an impact on them and their families, so please be mindful of what you say. If you are looking for updates on the El Faro incident that come directly from TOTE Maritime, please visit http://elfaroincident.com. As we receive additional information, we will share it with the community.
Staff and faculty, as you greet students today, please be sensitive to the fact that they are following this news closely as well. If you can help to connect them with resources they may need, please do.
Yesterday, Liz True sent an email to invite students to talk to Paul Ferreira, Director of Counseling. Paul will hold open office hours again today at 10 am, 11 AM, and 1 PM in his office in Curtis Hall. No appointment is necessary, and students may come individually or in groups to talk with him. We will announce additional office hours as needed. If the open hours are not convenient and you want to arrange to meet with Paul at another time, please call or email: 326-2419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we need to come together as a community, we will communicate via multiple channels. In the meantime, I am still hopeful that this situation will have a positive outcome, and am holding that hope for our community, as I know you are, too.
Message #1 | Oct. 3
The distressing news about El Faro, the cargo ship that is currently missing near the Bahamas, has us all extremely concerned for the safety of all on board. We are watching the situation closely as search efforts continue today. TOTE, the ship’s operator, is in contact with the ship’s crew families. We don’t want to speculate or offer inaccurate information regarding crew members who may be connected to Maine Maritime Academy, but we seriously share the concern for all who are aboard El Faro. As we learn more, we will share what we know, and in the meantime, we share the hope for a good outcome.