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Alarm blared during Golden Ray capsizing

Crew members can be heard shouting on audio played during first day of hearing into cause of September 2019 accident

A crane places a shipping container around the Golden Ray as part of a scouring protection plan. (Photo: St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Shouting followed by a continuous alarm provided the most dramatic moments in the first day of a hearing into the cause of last year’s capsizing of the M/V Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound.

The audio recording recovered from the roll-on/roll-off vessel lasted for several minutes and was played Monday as part of the first exhibits at the hearing in Brunswick, Georgia. 

The Golden Ray ran aground and capsized while departing the Port of Brunswick on Sept. 8, 2019. Four of the 24 crew members of the Hyundai Glovis car carrier were trapped for more than 30 hours before being rescued through a hole cut into the hull. No one was seriously injured in the accident or rescue operation.

Capt. Blake Welborn, the Coast Guard’s lead investigating officer, said Monday that the hearing will determine, in part, the cause of the accident, adequacy of the ship’s safety management system, and whether there was any misconduct or negligence related to the capsizing or response.

Welborn said witnesses will address a number of time periods, including those leading up to the accident, the loading and storing of vessels on the Golden Ray, and the pilot debarkation procedure at the Port of Brunswick.

The Golden Ray had arrived in Brunswick from Jacksonville, Florida. The ro-ro vessel has a capacity for more than 7,000 vehicles but carried about 4,300 when it capsized, Welborn said. 

Monday’s hearing adjourned early because of what Welborn called “several technical difficulties.” The media and public had complained they could not hear testimony given during the livestreamed hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. weekdays through Sept. 22. Welborn said schedule changes also were being made for witnesses in New Orleans, which is in the path of the approaching Hurricane Sally.

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.