Hurricane Maria is not to blame for FERREL disaster, it was bound to happen

As it came out and hit world headlines as top news, former research ship FERREL capsized and was washed ashore when caught in cyclone Maria. Communications with the ship were lost, SAR was launched on Sep 20 after FERREL managed to issue distress signal, SAR was a joint effort between the US Coast Guard, the Customs and Border Protection and the Royal Navy which sent a ship and the rescue chopper. Capsized FERREL was washed ashore at western tip of Vieques island, Puerto Rico, with a family of four people on board – a British man, who died being trapped inside, and mother with two 12-year old kids, who were airlifted by helicopter – thankfully, safe and sound.
Maybe most amazing aspect of the whole story is the fact, that big ocean-going, former research ship, initially built as an offshore tug, was manned by a family of four, including two children, not even teens. No wonder the ship ran into disaster. How could it happen at all, who, whose authorities cleared this ship to leave port and sail into stormy waters and oncoming deadly cyclone, with a family for a crew?
According to AIS track, FERREL’s last port of call was Tortola, British Virgin Islands, she left Tortola on Sep 19, destination unknown. Does Tortola have something of a Port Control, do they check departing ships at all? According to any book or regulation, ship of such dimensions and characteristics can not be recognized as seaworthy with man and wife as a crew.
There is another question to be asked – why? Why those two, man and wife, sailed into that suicidal trip, were they so reckless, or were they driven by something else? This disaster is the one which could be and should be avoided, be there anywhere, from couple to port authorities, any sense of responsibility, or just any common sense.
Listed above questions aren’t idle inquiries – the couple endangered themselves and two irresponsible, helpless children, and in general, added up to a mess brought to Puerto Rico by a powerful cyclone.

First news:
US research ship aground in Caribbean, Puerto Rico
The US research ship FERREL on Sep 21 reported as disabled and probably, aground, in the Caribbean, on eastern tip of Vieques island, Puerto Rico. No other information available at the moment. Latest AIS dated Sep 20, no AIS signals since then.
Research ship FERREL, MMSI 338574000, GT 347, built 1968, flag USA, owner RESERVOIR MARINE LLC.

P.S. When I was writing the news on FERREL probable grounding, I already knew that some family boat ran into trouble off Puerto Rico, but of course, it didn’t even came to my mind to knot those two accidents into one. Family boat and offshore tug are absolutely different things.
On one of the photos FERREL as a former NOAA research ship. Does she look like recreational family boat?

Voytenko Mikhail
September 22, 2017

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