Brunswick, Georgia: The Golden Ray, a massive cargo ship, capsized off of the Georgia coast late Sunday evening. The Coast Guard began receiving distress calls around 2:00 a.m., regarding the 656 foot behemoth. The vessel had just departed Cornel’s Island Terminal when it capsized.
The Golden Ray, which can carry in excess of 20,000 tons, capsized with 23 persons on board, including one U.S. Pilot and nearly two dozen Filipino & South Korean crew members. The Hyundai Glovis cargo ship was transporting automobiles when it began listing prior to capsizing in the early morning hours Sunday. The vessel remains of the coast in St. Simons Sound, which is where sun bathers on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach were photographed later in the day with the boat capsized in the distance.
The Coast Guard executed a dangerous rescue, airlifting 5 crewmembers to safety. With the assistance of multiple local agencies, including Moran Towing, Brunswick Bar Pilots Association, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, SeaTow, and the Glynn County Fire Department, another 15 crewmembers were brought to safety via boat. Four crew members, all South Korean, remain on board at the time of this writing. The ship’s registered owner is a South Korean company.
Due to the evacuation efforts of the Golden Ray all vessel traffic in the Port of Brunswick was suspended without approval from the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. The port, which is one of the busiest U.S. seaports for shipping automobiles, indicated that unauthorized vessles are not to traverse within a half mile of the Golden Ray.
Instability of the vessel and a fire near the cargo area made a subsequent rescue of the remaining crew members far too dangerous. All of the remaining missing crew members are believed to be in the ship’s engine room. Once the vessel has been stabilized authorities plan to resume their attempt to enter the ship, searching for the remaining crew.
Captain John Reed of the United States Coast Guard informed press that the fire may not be fully extinguished, without going inside the cargo ship itself, saying, “Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew members, who remain on board.”
Hurricane Dorian did indeed touch past the Georgia coast last week prior to being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. While it is unclear whether or not weather conditions caused or led to the capsizing, the exact cause of the incident remains under investigation at the time of this writing.
If you or your loved one has been injured while on a cargo ship, contact the maritime lawyers of O’Bryan Law immediately for a case consultation. You may be able to seek compensation for your hardships under the maritime law and Jones Act.