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Ro-ro cargo vessel capsizes off Georgia, search for crew continues

U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville

The roll-on, roll-off cargo vessel Golden Ray capsized early Sunday morning, Sept. 8, in St. Simons Sound after departing from the Port of Brunswick, Georgia.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), 20 crew members have been rescued and four remain missing, with a search underway. As of last report, the vessel was on fire. “The vessel’s master and chief engineer are assisting authorities and salvage teams to develop plans to stabilize the vessel and continue rescue efforts,” said the USCG in a release.

The Golden Ray had a crew of 24, including 23 crewmembers and a pilot, with 4,200 vehicles aboard.

According to Georgia Ports Authority executive director Griff Lynch, the vessel capsized at approximately 2 a.m. after departing the Colonels Island Terminal just off of St. Simons Island.

The Golden Ray is a roll-on, roll-off ship used to transport vehicles. The 2017-built vessel is 656 feet long, 106 feet wide, has a capacity of 20,995 deadweight tons and is managed by Hyundai Glovis, according to ship database EQUASIS.

The Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources reported that a boom has been put in place around the ship and an emergency spill response crew is stationed nearby.

“We greatly appreciate the immediate response of the U.S. Coast Guard, who are leading the search and rescue,” said Lynch.

The Port of Brunswick is a major port for the shipment of automobiles. The port is ranked number one for new auto imports and is the second busiest roll-on, roll-off port in the nation.

The Georgia ports of Brunswick and Savannah reopened midday on Thursday, Sept. 5, after being closed on Tuesday and Wednesday as Hurricane Dorian passed.

Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.