Environment, News

Hearings On Cause Of Golden Ray Wreck Off Georgia Coast Begin Monday

The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have scheduled hearings in Georgia starting Monday on the ill-fated South Korean ship Golden Ray. The vessel had just left the Port of Brunswick, 70 miles south of Savannah, when it capsized on Sept. 8, 2019.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have scheduled hearings in Georgia starting Monday on the ill-fated South Korean ship Golden Ray. The vessel had just left the Port of Brunswick, 70 miles south of Savannah, when it capsized on Sept. 8, 2019.
Credit Stephen B. Morton / Associated PRess file
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Hearings begin Monday in Brunswick investigating why a cargo ship capsized off the coast of Georgia last year.

The car carrier was leaving the Port of Brunswick with thousands of cars on board when it overturned last September. The Golden Ray was headed to Baltimore, carrying more than 4,000 cars.

Everyone on the crew was rescued, though some were trapped for more than a day after the ship overturned.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Blake Welborn, the lead investigator, didn’t give any clue as to what he’s found so far during a briefing Friday.

But he said one big outcome should be how to prevent another wreck like the Golden Ray.

“The most important piece as far as I’m concerned are the safety recommendations, to keep these things from happening again in the future,” he said.

Welborn said investigators have been collecting information on the Golden Ray since it first capsized.

The hearings are scheduled to continue for seven days with testimony from crew members and the people who helped rescue them, as well as from technical experts. The hearings are open to the public, but, because of the coronavirus, not in-person. They’ll be streamed online.

Welborn said a full report on the cause could take another year to finish.

Meanwhile, the Golden Ray is still on its side just off St. Simons Island. Most of the oil has been drained out of it, but the cars are still inside.

“It’s good that we’re going to hear this, but yet we’re still not done yet,” said Sue Inman with the group Altamaha Riverkeeper. She’s concerned about the effects on the environment.

The Golden Ray was supposed to be removed earlier this year, but that’s been delayed by the coronavirus and hurricane season.

The plan now is for crews to begin cutting up the Golden Ray to get it and its cars out of the St. Simons Sound next month.