Miami: US crews have said they were calling off their hunt for the data recorder of the doomed "El Faro" freighter but voiced confidence they could still determine why the ship sank.
The El Faro was en route from Florida to Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and automobiles when it was caught in a ferocious storm off the Bahamas on October 1.
All 33 crew members -- mostly Americans as well as five Poles -- are believed to have perished. One body was recovered.
"While it is disappointing that the voyage data recorder was not located, we are hopeful that we'll be able to determine the probable cause of this tragedy and the factors that may have contributed to it," the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement yesterday.
Investigators did locate the debris field of the ship at a depth of 15,000 feet (4,500 meters).
The 735-foot El Faro was carrying 391 containers in addition to 294 trailers and automobiles below deck when it disappeared during Hurricane Joaquin.
The last contact with the ship was a satellite notification that it had lost propulsion and was listing.
Joaquin has proved to be the Atlantic hurricane season's most powerful storm so far this year, reaching Category four out of maximum five in intensity.
The storm caused serious damage in the Bahamas, as well as major power outages in Bermuda.