Four crew members onboard the cargo ship Golden Ray suffered maritime injuries when the ship overturned in the early hours of September 8, 2019. Photos of the rescue suggest that the four crew members suffered injuries, as rescuers lifted the crew members from the ship strapped onto gurneys. The nature and extent of the injuries – be it bodily injury or trauma from the situation – has not been disclosed.
Cargo Ship Overturns Causing Maritime Injuries
The Golden Ray was just off the coast of Brunswick, GA and St. Simons Sound when the Coast Guard received a notice that a ship had overturned. The ship was 80 miles off the coast of Savannah, GA when the incident happened. Crew members report the ship listing heavily, meaning that the ship turned too sharply and tipped over. This can happen due to uneven cargo loads or distribution.
When rescuers arrived, they were able to rescue 20 of the 24 people onboard, including 19 crewmembers and the pilot. Four crew members were trapped inside the ship for hours after the incident. The Coast Guard reported the rescue took around 40 hours to complete. Rescuers first had to locate the missing crew members and confirm they were still alive.
Officials noted that the ship was too dangerous for rescuers to go inside and conduct a search. Instead, they performed a series of taps on the hull of the ship. Eventually, they got return taps from the trapped crewmen, and that helped them isolate their location.
To reach them, rescuers had to drill a hole into the hull of the ship. They drilled in small sections until the hole measured two-foot-by-three-foot. Rescuers reported that all four crewmen were alive, and were in “relatively good” condition.
Mitigating Further Hazards and Injuries
The Golden Ray is a 656-foot cargo vessel owned by Hyundai Glovis. The automaker is one of many that use the port in Brunswick to transport automobiles into the U.S. Hyundai officials have expressed their gratitude for the rescue and ongoing investigation into why the ship overturned.
The company has worked with U.S. officials to mitigate hazards to nearby property and the environment. Authorities’ primary concern was fuel in the ship leaking into the water. Now, two weeks later, the Coast Guard says that oil is sporadically leaking from the ship, which is still on its side in the sound.
The Coast Guard has received reports that oil has been spotted in nearby marshes, rivers, and shorelines. Officials continue to investigate and clean up the situation.
St. Simons Sound and the port are among the busiest in the U.S. Mitigating risks for other ships and the nearby communities is paramount in such situations.
Investigating the Cause of the Accident
Investigators continue to search for the cause of the accident and maritime injuries. Weather conditions are one possible explanation. Hurricane Dorian had passed over the area in the week before the accident, which could have impact surf conditions.
Crew members onboard report hearing “metallic sounds” before the ship overturned, but the source of the noise has not been identified. It is possible that these noises were caused by cargo shifting in the cargo bays. The ship was carrying automobiles at the time.
Another possibility being investigated is that a fire broke out and caused damage. Crew members and rescuers noted that a fire producing black smoke was visible on the starboard side of the ship during the rescue. The cause of the fire has not been identified.
Capsizing, Sinking, and Maritime Injuries
For maritime workers, capsizing or sinking are worst case scenarios. When a ship lists, capsizes, or sinks, there are numerous risks for workers onboard. These risks include:
Of course, an overturned or capsized vessel can also cause entrapment. Being trapped inside the small space of a vessel that is at sea must be terrifying. In the case of the Golden Ray, rescuers note that the four trapped crew members were extremely glad to be out of the confined space.