Four crew members missing after cargo ship overturns off US state of Georgia
Most of those overboard the Golden Ray have been rescued.
Rescuers scoured the coast of the US state of Georgia on Sunday for four missing crew members of a cargo ship that overturned and caught fire, but the efforts ran into trouble amid the flames and instability of the ship, the US Coast Guard said.
The Golden Ray cargo ship’s problems began early on Sunday morning when it listed heavily and rolled on its side in St Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick with 23 crew members and one pilot on board.
Coast Guard captain John Reed said 20 people were safely evacuated from the ship before rescuers determined the situation, as smoke and flames appeared, was too risky to go further inside the vessel.
The vessel was just offshore in view of beachgoers on the shoreline.
A @USCG Air Station Savannah helicopter crew and port partners rescued 20 people early this morning after the Golden Ray, a 656-foot vehicle carrier, was reported disabled and listing. 4 crew members are still unaccounted for. Video available here: https://t.co/WxHwVs9LPN pic.twitter.com/dD92UPuHH9— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 8, 2019
Mr Reed said rescue teams on Sunday were trying to stabilize the 656-foot vehicle carrier to continue their search for the missing crew, but they have been unable to determine if the fire has been extinguished.
The Coast Guard tweeted later Sunday afternoon that one of its groups, called the Atlantic Strike Team, was preparing to depart to the site to assess what it called a complex situation.
“Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew members who remain on board,” Mr Reed said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
A damage assessment team from the @USCG Atlantic Strike Team prepares to depart from #USCG Station Brunswick. The team is assessing the impacts of the Golden Ray and are just one of many specialized teams working diligently in the complex response. pic.twitter.com/gU4cPYV96Y— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 8, 2019
The cause of the incident remains under investigation.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Dickinson said it isn’t clear if weather conditions caused the ship to lurch.
Hurricane Dorian brushed past the Georgia coast last week before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
The Coast Guard said the overturned ship hasn’t released any pollutants so far, but mitigation responses are ready in case they are needed.
The Golden Ray, which the Coast Guard said was transporting cars, is flagged out of the Marshall Islands and was headed to Baltimore, according to the website vesselfinder.com.
The ship’s registered owner is a South Korean company.
The Port of Brunswick is one of the busiest US seaports for shipping automobiles.
Nearly 614,000 vehicles and heavy machinery units moved across its docks in the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.