Golden Ray operations shift to environmental protection

With all crew members rescued from capsized vehicle carrier Golden Ray (IMO 9775816), operations will now shift over to environmental protection, removing the vessel and resuming commerce.

Immediately after the accident the US Coast Guard lifted 20 crew members into helicopters, at which point they determined that smoke, flames and unstable cargo made it too risky to venture further inside the vessel.

Officials were concerned that some of the 4,000 vehicles aboard might have broken loose. At first, rescuers thought the noises they were hearing from inside the upturned hull could be vehicles crashing around, but by dawn on Monday they were confident that the taps were responses to their own taps, indicating that someone was alive inside.

On Monday morning rescuers landed on the side of the car carrier and rappelled down the hull. Three men were found in a room close to the propeller shaft, near the bottom of the stern. Responders began drilling, starting with a three-inch hole. USCG officials brought the ship’s chief engineer, who was rescued on Sunday, out to the ship to translate, and found the three men were “on board and OK”.

Rescuers passed food and water through the hole to the men. They also provided fresh air to the propeller room, in which the high was 34 degrees Celsius.

Responders then set up a tent on the hull and began drilling additional holes, eventually making an opening large enough to insert a ladder and help the men climb out.

The fourth rescue proved a significant challenge as the crewman was behind glass in a separate engineering compartment on another deck.

Golden Ray is now stuck in the shipping channel outside the Georgia port of Brunswick, closing what is one of the busiest US seaports for the shipping of cars.. One ship was reported stuck in port, while four more were lined up outside, waiting to come in. The Golden Ray arrived in port in Brunswick on Saturday evening after making a short sail from a prior stop in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship then departed the dock in Brunswick shortly after midnight and was underway only 23 minutes before its movement stopped in the mouth of the harbour, where it first listed heavily and then capsized.

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said after the final man was rescued that Port officials were “working closely with the Coast Guard to reopen the channel”.

The cause of the capsizing remains under investigation. Marine Traffic shows the Golden Ray overturned as it was passed by another car carrier entering St. Simons Sound. At the time, the skies were clear and the weather calm, with a southerly breeze of only 5 miles per hour, according to National Weather Service records. The vessel is owned by Hyundai Glovis, which carries cars for automakers Hyundai and Kia, plus some others. About 20% of the roughly 4,200 vehicles on board were thought to be US-manufactured Kias. The vessel had a capacity of more than 7,000 vehicles.

2017-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 71,178 gt Golden Ray is owned by GL NV24 Shipping Inc care of manager Hyundai Glovis of Seoul, South Korea. ISM manager is G-Marine Service Co Ltd of Busan, South Korea. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Hyundai Glovis Co, Ltd.