El Faro Salute Dedication in Rockland to Honor the 33 Crew Members Lost at Sea Including Four Mainers
A beautiful sculpture to honor those lost in one of the worst maritime tragedies in modern history.
If you aren't familiar, the El Faro was a cargo ship leaving Florida for Puerto Rico loaded with cars and containers in 2015. But hurricane Joaquin changed that forever. Through the misguidance of the Captain using weather reports that weren't updated, El Faro was directly in the path of the hurricane. In fact, in the NTSB report, they had satellite imagery of El Faro near the eye of the storm.
To retrieve the VDR (voyage data recorder) they needed three voyages. But retrieving the information was invaluable. According to the NTSB report:
The transcript required more than 1,100 work hours to complete. The transcript report is more than 500 pages and is the longest transcript ever produced by the NTSB.
That leads us to the dedication in Rockland Saturday, September 24. It will be on Atlantic Avenue overlooking Rockland harbor. It's called 'El Faro Salute!'. There is expected to be quite a crowd that will include family members of victims.
The sculptor Jay Sawyer told the Press Herald
I would say it’s the most personal thing I’ve ever done, yeah. The most ambitious and the most important, too.
Jay was a 1983 graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and worked as a mariner for years before becoming an artist. Five of the El Faro victims also were MMA graduates, including the ship’s captain, 53-year-old Michael Davidson from Windham.
The names of all 33 people who perished when the El Faro sank in the Caribbean Sea during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 are etched into the sculpture. Deb Roberts lost her 25-year-old son in the tragedy. She says that the grief has lessened over the past seven years, but losing someone at sea is hard. There is no gravesite to go to. There is no place for flowers.
Now there is.