Anthony Chiarello, President & CEO of TOTE, owner of the cargo ship presumed to have sunk with 33 mariners aboard last week amid Hurricane Joaquin, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon promising continued support to the families of the mariners lost aboard the missing El Faro.
Chiarello's full statement is below:
“Since Thursday, every individual in the TOTE organization has held out hope that the crew of the El Faro would be found safe. It is with heavy hearts this afternoon that we learn the Coast Guard has suspended their search for survivors.
Our focus has been on supporting and caring for the family members, loved ones, and friends of those aboard the El Faro. The Coast Guard’s announcement will not change the support that TOTE extends to those affected by this tragic event: though the search may be over, their grief, and ours, is not.
We appreciate there are many rumors and speculations surrounding this tragic event, as there are with any accident. For the sake of the families and loved ones, we ask that you continue to respect their privacy and wait for the investigation results.
We at TOTE can never truly know the pain the families and loved ones have gone through, but we do know how deeply this event has affected every employee of TOTE. A company is made up of people, and this tragedy has touched every individual across our organization.
We have no doubt that these are the darkest days of TOTE’s years as an organization, and indeed, the darkest days in the memory of most seafarers. A legacy of this painful event must be an understanding that serves all who go to sea.
Out of respect for our seafarers, and for every seafarer here and around the world, it is critical that we understand what contributed to this accident. We are appreciative of the active participation into that effort by the NTSB. To every woman and man in the Merchant Marine, we promise our full and open participation into the investigation of this tragic accident.
We have met with family members, loved ones, and friends here in Jacksonville, and have communicated by phone with those unable to be here, making every effort to communicate everything we know as swiftly as we know it. As the NTSB’s investigation begins, we will continue these efforts to the best of our abilities.
We wish to thank the USCG, and in fact the entire US Government, who have worked tirelessly, placing assets at the disposal of the search and keeping the men and women of the El Faro in their thoughts and prayers.
Our industry is very small and very close, and the support and prayers for the crew and families from the maritime community mean a great deal to all of us. We would also like to thank all who have posted support on social media channels: your sentiments were appreciated, and your support was felt by all of us.
We appreciate the important role of the media: the politeness in your calls to our office and your respect of the families and loved ones, as we do our best to support those in pain.
We will continue to focus our attention on the families and loved ones.”