The bill includes provisions that require three key points:

  • The US Coast Guard to ensure that proper vessel inspections are undertaken;
  • Vessels and crew have necessary safety equipment and timely weather forecast charts;
  • Voyage data recorders float free after an accident.

The aim of this bill is to improve maritime safety and help address issues identified by the US Coast Guard in the sinking of the El Faro, and additional bipartisan measures.


Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Chairman Duncan Hunter noted:

The loss of the U.S.-flagged cargo vessel EL FARO, along with its 33-member crew, ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history, and resulted in the highest death toll from a U.S. commercial vessel sinking in almost 40 years. The Nation relies on our merchant mariners and the U.S.-flagged ships they sail, and we owe it to them to learn from the lessons of past tragedies. The Maritime Safety Act of 2018 incorporates a number of safety recommendations from the EL FARO tragedy, and I’m confident that it will make great strides in improving the safety of our mariners.

The US Coast Guard has issued an official investigation report on cargo vessel El Faro, which sank along with its 33 member crew, in October 2015, becoming one of the worst maritime disasters in US history.

The investigation report on El Faro cargo vessel found that the captain underestimated the strength of a hurricane and overestimated the ship's strength on a trip between Florida and Puerto Rico. Also, ship's owner, Tote Maritime Inc., had not replaced a safety officer and had violated regulations regarding crew rest periods and working hours.