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Investigators Locate Sunken Cargo Ship El Faro's Data Recorder

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The cargo ship El Faro's voyage data recorder was located early Tuesday morning in 15,000 feet of water, about 41 miles northeast of the Bahamas.

The National Transportation Safety Board resumed its search for the ship's recorder last week -- saying it may be the best chance investigators and surviving family members of the crew have of finding out what happened to the doomed vessel.

Baltimore County native Frank Hamm was one of the 33 crew members who went down with the 40-year-old ship when it sank in October after an encounter with Hurricane Joaquin. It was ailing from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The wreckage was found in November, but the data recorder, which is capable of recording conversations and sounds on the ship's navigation bridge, was not recovered at that time.

The investigative team that departed last week is comprised of specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Coast Guard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Tote Services, the owner and operator of El Faro.

"Finding an object about the size of a basketball almost three miles under the surface of the sea is a remarkable achievement," said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart.

"It would not have been possible without the information gained during the first survey of the wreckage and the equipment and support provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the University of Rhode Island, and the many other partners involved in this effort."

The next step in the ongoing investigation is to determine how the recorder can be retrieved.

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