The sinking of the cargo ship SS El Faro is investigated by providing a comprehensive analysis of the wind, wave, and ocean currents associated with Hurricane Joaquin. Using state-of-the-art reanalyses, the event is assessed in high resolution and from a long-term climate perspective. The last known location of the SS El Faro was in the north-west eye-wall of Hurricane Joaquin when it was a category four major hurricane. The maximum individual wave height in this region was over 10 m, and the Benjamin-Feir index was 0.69 indicating a high likelihood of rogue waves. As the vessel tried to outrun the Hurricane it was continually impacted by strong wind and waves on its port side. This was compounded with flooding that caused a starboard list which likely eventually caused the vessel to sink.
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Bell, R., & Kirtman, B. (Accepted/In press). Extreme environmental forcing on the container ship SS El Faro. Journal of Operational Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1080/1755876X.2019.1684136