'Puerto Rico' launching from No.1 Shipway on 11/01/1974
SSHS#: HML 743193303
'Puerto Rico pierside. Note Roll-On/Roll-Off ramp
on Stbd side of ship.
SSHS#: HML 743193301
SSHS#: HML 743192037
The new logo for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's Shipping Arm, Puerto Rico Maritime Shipping Authority (PRMSA) as it appears on the starboard side of the deckhouse of the S.S. 'Puerto Rico' (Sun Hull No. 670). The new logo will eventually replace the TTT logo now appearing on the 'Ponce de Leon' ((Sun Hull No. 647), 'Eric K. Holzer' (Sun Hull No. 650), and 'Fortaleza' (Sun Hull No. 663. The logo change reflects TTT's sale of its charter rights to these Sun-built trailerships to PRMSA in 1974.
Original Name:S.S. 'Puerto Rico'
Renamed 1991:S.S. 'Northern Lights'
SSHS#: 326.043.07-“ex-'Puerto Rico', Hull 670 tied up pierside as the 'Northern Lights' “
'El Faro' transiting the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal on her way to Philadelphia.
SSHS#: 447.20.029b Courtesy of Hank Shaefer
'El Faro' sailing upriver on the Delaware River heading for Philadelphia while passing the 'Harrah's' Casino in Chester, the original site of the Sun Shipbuilding Co., where she was built.
SSHS#: 445.04.003a Courtesy of John Curdy
'El Faro' pierside in Philadelphia. 4/21/2010
SSHS members and guests were invited to a tour of the ship and a lunch by the Capt. and crew of the 'El Faro'.
L/R: Bill Weisenborn-Sea Star, Dave Kavanagh SSHS, Rich Griffith-ASG, Al Shaw-Sun Ship, John Glandfield-Sun Ship, Mark Reed-Sun Ship, Jim Coleman-Sea Star, Dave Moorehead-Sun Ship, Hank Shaefer-Sun Ship, Capt' Earl Loftfield-Sea Star, John Curdy-SSHS
Note: If there are any identification errors please let us know via the email contact in the 'opening page' of the website.
SSHS#: 443.26.424c Courtesy of Dave Kavanagh
Press Release from 2006:
'El Faro' starts service with Sea Star Line in March, 2006.
1. The 'El Faro', a 30-year-old ship being used by the military, will join the Jacksonville-based shipping line, which sails from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico. The ship is owned by Sea Star's parent company, SaltChuk Resources Inc., and had been operated by sister company Totem Ocean Trailer Express in its Alaska operation.
2. El Faro, formerly named the Northern Lights was operated by Totem Ocean Trailer Express in the Alaska trade and is coming off charter from the Military Sealift Command, servicing the Middle East. El Faro was modified by Atlantic Marine in Mobile, Alabama to a configuration similar to Sea Star's other vessels.
3. The names of the ships were carefully selected to reflect the heritage and pride of Puerto Rico. SS El Yunque (Hull 674-dmk) is named after the Puerto Rican rain forest the only rain forest in the United States National Forest System. SS El Morro (Hull 666-dmk) is named after the fortress that has protected the entrance of the San Juan Bay since 1540. SS El Faro (Hull 670-dmk) is named after the many Puerto Rican lighthouses and represents Sea Star Line's vision, guidance, and commitment to the trade between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Note 1: If anyone has any additions or corrections to this page, please contact us via the email address on the site's opening page.
Note 2: This page has been revised on 2017.01.22. Please see end of page for; 'A Ship's Life' and 'My Thoughts'.
This portion of the webpage has been created primarily in memory of the crew of the 'El Faro' as the first anniversay of the tragedy draws near'.
In Memoriam of Sun Ship's S.S. El Faro, Hull 670
‘El Faro’ Our Hull 670-Launched as the ‘Puerto Rico’ - ‘In Memoriam
This poster was made for the SSHS table at the ‘Old Chester Exhibit’ in October of 2015.
Captain Earl Loftfield, Master of the 'El Yunque' forwarded us some pictures of the memorial service that the crew conducted on October 11, 2015 while over the 'El Faro''. The position was the same position the the 'El Yunque' had traversed the previous week, where the fuel oil was bubbling up from 3 miles down and hitting the surface as the ship was passing through it.The service was conducted in remembrance of the tragic loss of the crew of the 'El Faro' during 'Hurricane Joaquin' near the Bahamas on October 1, 2015. The memorial service included the ringing of the ships bell thirty-three times in remembrance of the crew and five Polish contractors and throwing the flowers over the side.
Note: In addition to being the Master of the 'El Yunque', Capt. Loftfield was also the Master of the 'El Faro' and through his and Rich Griffith's efforts, the Sun Ship Historical Society and others were given a luncheon tour of the 'El Faro' in 2010 as shown in a previous picture.
We are extremely grateful to Capt' Loftfield for sharing the 'El Yunque's' crews memorial service with us. Dave Kavanagh SSHS
#319.01.729: View looking towards the ship’s bow. You will notice the flowers on the hatch towards the center of the picture.
Courtesy of Capt' Earl Loftfield
#319.01.733: Flowers next to one of ‘El Yunque’s’ life preservers.
Courtesy of Capt' Earl Loftfield
#319.01.741a: View of the flowers below the ship’s bell.
The Sister's Journey
At this point, I would like to share some of both; the communications between Capt' Loftfield and Sea Star Line; and his personal thoughts as to the loss of the 'El Faro's' Crew. Capt' Earl was the Master of the 'El Yunque', which was the sister ship of the 'El Faro' and the ships passed one another many times as they shared the same port of calls together between Jacksonville, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The chronology, from October 3, 2015 to October 11, 2015, was printed in the 'American Maritime Officer''s October, 2015 publication and was titled: 'The Sister's Journey'.
Oct 3, 2015:
...We have reviewed the wind and currents for that location from that time until present. Our normal scheuled route will take us very close to that potential drift location about 0600 Sunday. Normal working overtime for dock gang during those hours will be as lookouts. NO PLANS for search pattern. However, motor life boat is ready for good fortune.
Oct 4, 2015 7:00AM
'El Yunque' is 40 miles due north of last reported position. We have radio contact with the salvage tug 'Hawk'. They are within 1.2 miles of ;El Faro' position. They report debris including one intact 20' shipping container.
Oct 4, 2015 10:52AM
This the apparent point of origin for plume of oil rising and creating a slick. At this location oil was black on the water and air smelled strongly of same. We found the slick after traveling through a debris field for 25 miles, at times having as many a 50 simultanious sightings. All significant sightings were reported to the tug 'Hawk'. We are coming up to full speed and will provide ETA San Juan momentarily.
Oct 5, 2015 9:02PM
Those of us who choose to go to sea live a life that cannot be conceived of or understood by those who do not. What we see, know and believe cannot be accepted or trusted by non-sailors. Our visit to the site was immense in closure for us and for our brethern that have journeyed on. The validity of our experience is denied by a public that hopes it cannot be true......that separate reality is part of the 'worst day ever'.
Oct 6, 2015 10:20PM
Crew assembled in Mess Hall for ship's meeting. Above communications read aloud. Significance of what we have witnessed is acknowledged. The Pain. The Rage. The Knowing. The Work. Our safety through situational awareness and the stilling of afflictive emotions. Cautionary mention of predators ashore wanting to exploit the grieving and the possibility of 'hearing the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools'.
Oct 7, 2015 4:09PM
Circumstances had 'El Yunque' pass over a rising plume of oil on Sunday October 4th. We sailors see what we see and have our judgments about what is indicated. 12:00PM we made a perfect rendezvous with a life ring from the 'El Faro'. We have recovered it. It is our final farewell. We are now an only child on this route. We will miss seeing our sister twice a week.
Oct 9, 2015 14:00
The wives of the Polish riding crew made the long journey from Poland to see where their most beloveds slept alone without them, ate without them, food they did not prepare for them. To see the 'home away from home' that is nothing like home. The widows bring a bouquet of roses with the request we go to the site and drop them on the water.
Oct 11, 2015 20:00
Crew gathered on the bow. Moonless night. Sea was flat. Eternity over the rail. With each of 33 strikes of the ship's bell, a flower was dropped in the water. A meteor burned bright, arching towards the lightning. We sailors see what we see and have our judgments about what is indicated.
Press Release Oct.2015:
Initial reports had been received from the Captain of the ‘El Faro’ that he had “a marine emergency” after taking on water in one of the holds and that the ship had lost its main propulsion unit and the engineers could not get it started. The ship sank on October 1st, 2015 off the coast of the Bahamas, in Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 hurricane, in 15,000 feet of water.
During my Sun Ship research, I have reviewed many books looking for facts and sentiments that I feel are pertinent to the history of our yard and our ships. In this process I have found, upon occasion, words written by others that express my thoughts intimately and, in my opinion, could not be improved upon. I came across the following paragraphs and thought they are so appropriate to both the building and the sea-life of our ships, that they needed to be included in our history and there was no more appropriate place then with our 'El Faro'.
"The launching of a ship, be she a twelve-foot dinghy, ocean-going liner or great battleship, is a solemn occasion.
At this moment the future looms nearer, unseen but not unfelt; and pride of workmanship becomes humbled before the immensity of the challenge to mighty elements and a fate beyond man's control.
Man-the-Builder has toiled for days, months or even years to shape this new and shining tool. Now it is to be committed to the sea, to a hidden destiny; and Man-the-Seafarer must put forth in her to test the mystery of oceans and to give her the life for which she has been cunningly made.
No one can tell if that life will be short or long, a maiden voyage wreck or years of tramping the seas to an honorable discharge in the shipbreakers yard.
Men may die for her or because of her, others may become rich or ruined through her and great issues may hang upon the seamanship of her crew or the strength of her keel."
Note: These words were borrowed from Peter Shankland and Anthony Hunter's fabulous book 'Malta Convoy', published in 1961, which, in part,
describes the critical role our tanker 'Ohio' played in the success of that convoy in World War II. Please see our page on S.S. 'Ohio' Hull 190
in our Ships-of-Sun Ship series.
A Ship's Life: From Launching to End
NTSB's Final Report on the sinking of the 'El Faro':