Coast Guard Shifts Focus to Salvage of Capsized Golden Ray in Georgia

golden ray
The MV Golden Ray rests on its side near the Port of Brunswick in Georgia. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

With the remaining four Golden Ray crew members safe and sound, the U.S. Coast Guard and salvage crews are shifting focus to environmental protection and salvage of the overturned car carrier near one of the busiest auto ports in the country.

According to the Coast Guard, currently there are no leaks from the vessel, only a light residual sheen in the waters surrounding the vessel that is being combated by protection measures that have been in place since the initial rescue.

The next phase of the response follows the Monday’s successful rescue of the remaining four South Korean crew members who spent more than a day trapped inside the ship.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified around 2 a.m. Sunday morning that the 656-foot Golden Ray was listing heavily in the St. Simons Sound with 23 crew members and one pilot on board. The initial rescue was successful in removing 20 people from the ship, but four people remained unaccounted for.

Salvage crews were transported by Coast Guard to the vessel Monday morning to assess the vessel’s hull, confirming tapping from inside the vessel. By approximately 1 p.m., it was confirmed that the reamaining four crew members were still alive inside.

By 3 p.m., three crew members were safely extracted from the ship through a hole cut in the hull. The fourth and final crew member, who was located in a separate glass-enclosed engine control room, was safely extracted at 5:50 p.m, according to the Coast Guard.

The rescue team poses for a picture on the hull of the capsized Golden Ray, September 9, 2019. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed detailed the “difficult” rescue in interviews with the media in which he thanked those involved in the rescue and salvage including Moran Towing, SeaTow, Donjon-Smit and Defiant Marine.

The Coast Guard has also commended Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Brunswick Bar Pilots Association, and the Glynn County Fire Department for their role in the response, among its own crews.

Response Shifts to Salvage

The Coast Guard has now shifted operations completely to environmental protection, removing the vessel safely and resuming commerce at the Port of Brunswick, the second busiest roll-on/roll-off port in the nation behind the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of Brunswick Captain of the Port (COTP) has established an emergency safety zone in St. Simons Sound. Vessels are not authorized within .5 miles of the Golden Ray.

The incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard with support from the National Transportation Safety Board, which has assigned to investigators to the case.

Golden Ray’s Location

The location of the Golden Ray poses a major hazard to navigation for the Port of Brunswick. The ship was departing the port bound for the Baltimore when it grounded at the entrance to the St. Simons Sound. You can see it’s position in the AIS animation showing the Golden Ray’s track as it exited the port and capsized:

Additional Coast Guard units and partner agencies involved in the response:

  • Two Coast Guard Station Brunswick Response Boat crews 
  • Two Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews
  • Coast Guard Cutter Heron launched to assist
  • Coast Guard Sector Charleston
  • Marine Safety Unit Savannah
  • Coast Guard Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT)
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • Moran Towing
  • SeaTow
  • Brunswick Bar Pilots Association
  • Glynn County Fire Department
  • Other response teams