TOTE agrees to pay $5m to El Faro families

Families of ten of 33 crew members on sunken ro-ro to receive $500,000 each.

Crew of El Faro

The US Coast Guard released the names of El Faro's crew members as it announced that it suspended search efforts.


TOTE Maritime has agreed to $5m in settlements with some of the officers and crew members who died when its ro-ro sank off the Bahamas.

The US shipowner agreed to pay the families of 10 men and women $500,000 each, according to legal records filed in a limitation-of-liability lawsuit in Jacksonville.

The deals cover less than a third of the 33 people who died when the 5,330-lane-metre El Faro (built 1975) sank on 1 October during a hurricane.

The recipients include the family of master Michael Davidson, who is also a defendant in the litigation over the casualty.

The families of engineer Keith Griffin, boatswain Roan Lightfoot, chief engineer Richard Pusatere and second engineer Howard Schoenly also agreed to the settlements.

Also signing up are the families of all five Polish men who were on the US-flag ship as a riding crew. They are Piotr Krause, Marcin Nita, Jan Podgorska, Andrej Truszkowska and Rafal Zdobych.

Crooked Island sinking

El Faro went down off Crooked Island while it was travelling its regular route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and US Coast Guard are investigating, and TOTE has said it will commission a third-party safety assessment.

US-flagged El Faro was classed by American Bureau of Shipping and had insurance through Steamship Mutual.

Though the ship was 40 years old, it underwent upgrades in 1992 and 2006.