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Port of Brunswick open 24 hours to commercial vessels

Georgia port that had limited ship traffic after the car carrier Golden Ray went aground is now open around the clock.

A Eukor car carrier bound for the Port of Brunswick passes through St. Simons Sound by a work barge next to the M/V Golden Ray. (Photo from St. Simons Sound Response)

The Port of Brunswick in Georgia is now open to commercial vessel traffic 24 hours a day. Ship traffic in and out of the port through St. Simons Sound had been limited since Sept. 8 when the car carrier Golden Ray went aground and overturned while leaving port.

Brunswick’s Colonel’s Island Terminal is a dedicated facility for roll-on, roll-off cargo and is owned and operated by the Georgia Ports Authority. GPA says it is the second busiest port in the U.S. for total ro-ro cargo and second busiest for ro-ro imports. It has three berths and three on-terminal auto processors.

The “St. Simons Response Unified Command” with representatives from the Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Systems worked with the Georgia Ports Authority to open the port to around-the-clock operations on Nov. 14. 

GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch says that “means greater flexibility for the shipping lines that call on Brunswick, and more timely service for auto manufacturers and other cargo owners.”

As it was leaving the port, the Golden Ray, flipped onto its side. Twenty-four crew members were rescued from the ship after it went aground. Twenty were pulled off the ship within 10 hours, but another four were trapped and finally removed after a day and a half when rescuers were able to cut a hole in the bottom of the ship in order for them to escape. The Golden Ray is operated by the South Korean shipping and logistics company Hyundai Glovis.

Diver inspecting gravel stabilizing Golden Ray (Photo: St. Simons Sound Response)

Salvors have decided the ship cannot be refloated and will have to be cut-up and removed.

The channel to the port will be open to one-way traffic as inbound and outbound commercial vessels will have to pass one at a time for the safety of response crews working to prepare the Golden Ray for removal.

Unified Command response crews placed rock next to the hull of the Golden Ray to slow down erosion. Once the vessel is completely dismantled and transferred out of the sound, the rocks will be removed using excavators with sieve buckets.

Crews have been cleaning up oil from marshes in the area and within the ship, in some cases rapelling into the vessel to clear a path for oil spill equipment.

Response crews rappel into the hull of the Golden Ray and clear a path for oil spill equipment.
(Photo from St. Simons Sound Response)

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.