The EL TORO Tragedy
An Independent Review of
the Coast Guard Investigation Report
by David H. Pascoe, Marine Surveyor
On December 5, 1993 the party fishing vessel
EL TORO II sprung three planks and sank 5 miles south of Point Lookout on
the Chesapeake Bay. There were 23 passengers aboard and three died in the
incident, mainly due to exposure to the cold bay waters.
The EL TORO is a story of particular interest to marine surveyors that reveals some hard-learned lessons. EL TORO was a Coast Guard certified passenger carrying vessel that had just undergone its drydock inspection on March 23, 1993, little more than 8 months prior. In addition, an insurance survey was completed just 5 days before the loss of the EL TORO. Both of these are factors which will come into play, as we shall soon see, that provide some very important lessons for surveyors.
This review is based solely upon the U.S.C.G. investigation report dated 29 July, 1994 and subsequently published on the Internet. The report runs 34 pages in length and will only be excerpted here, not be reproduced in whole. It is available on the U.S.C.G web site for anyone interested at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/gm/moa/boards/eltoroII.pdf (*). This review is intended solely for the purpose of analysis of a tragedy and how marine surveyors may learn from it and better perform their services. This writer recognizes that he does not have all the facts, and that any criticism herein is based solely on the published report. This is not a complete investigation of the incident and should not be interpreted as such.
The names of the participants have been changed to protect their identities.
(*)The pdf file address is updated - May 2, 2015.
First posted 5/11/97 at David Pascoe's site
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