Home Top News ‘It’s perplexing.’ How did the Golden Ray ship capsize? Here’s a look...

‘It’s perplexing.’ How did the Golden Ray ship capsize? Here’s a look at possible answers

‘It’s perplexing.’ How did the Golden Ray ship capsize? Here’s a look at possible answers


U.S. Coast Guard video shows the dramatic rescue of the four missing crew aboard a cargo ship that capsized off the coast of Georgia.

The gleeful rescue team that pulled four trapped crewmen from a capsized cargo ship off the Georgia coast left behind more than 4,000 cars and one big question: Why did the Golden Ray capsize?

“Amazing,” said Capt. John Reed, commander of the Coast Guard Sector Charleston, after the last crewman was extricated from the hole drilled into a ship stretching the length of more than two football fields. “The best day of my career.”

Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, says he thinks the ship could be cleaned up and running again quickly.

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Goelz, who isn’t involved in the investigation, said he’s not sure when the cause of the mishap will be known. But there are not many possibilities to explore.

“It’s perplexing,” Goelz told USA TODAY. “How do you get enough water in there to essentially sink the ship so quickly?”

Goelz said there appears to be no massive rocks in the dredged channel that could have torn a hole in the hull. It could be that somehow the load of cars somehow shifted, but he said it would take a major change in weight distribution to topple the 656-foot ship.

The Golden Ray is a “RoRo” — a roll on, roll off ship designed with massive doors so cars and trucks can be driven on and off. Another possibility is that one of those doors simply wasn’t properly secured, Goelz said.

The NTSB is providing two investigators, but the Coast Guard will handle the probe into what happened. No timeline for answers has been provided.

“It will be very interesting to see what they find,” Goelz said.

The Baltimore-bound Golden Ray had barely set sail out of Brunswick, Georgia, and into St. Simons Sound early Sunday morning when trouble struck. An emergency call went out at around 2 a.m. ET, and about two hours later 20 crew members had been rescued.

That left four people to find, but the boat was unstable and a fire was raging, hampering rescue efforts. Monday morning, about 30 hours after the first emergency call, a helicopter landed on the side of the Golden Ray and a team emerged. They later heard tapping coming from the inside the beleaguered ship.

At 1 p.m. Monday it was confirmed that the four were alive. Rescuers cut a hole in the ship to provide more air and to drop food and water. A bigger hole was then cut, but with special tools to ensure another fire was not sparked. 

Three of the crewmen were freed from the engine room at about 3 p.m. The fourth rescue proved more complex. But three hours later, after penetrating blast-proof glass with a diamond-tipped cutter, the last man made a triumphant exit from the ship.


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Tim Ferris of the salvage firm Defiant Marine told The Associated Press the South Korean sailors “were being cooked” in the engine room with temperatures reaching 150 degrees. Ferris, who called the rescue “the effort of a lifetime,” said rescuers had to stuff their own pockets with bags of ice to withstand the heat.

The ship is owned by the South Korean firm Hyundai Glovis. South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent letters to President Donald Trump and Admiral Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, thanking them for the rescue effort, government spokesperson Ko Min-jung said. Ko also lauded the crew members for overcoming their fear in the isolated space, clinging to hope that rescue would come.

 “Thank you for returning to your families alive,” she said.

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