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Ports & Transportation

Sept. 8 - BREAKING: Possible Tragedy at Brunswick Port; Coast Guard Updates Public on Disabled Cargo Vessel in Brunswick harbor

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

September 8, 2019, 3 p.m. – The U.S. Coast Guard, headquartered in Charleston, held a press briefing today to update the public and ship traffic on the disabled cargo vessel, the Golden Ray, that overturned in Brunswick harbor early Sunday morning, held at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Coastal Resources Division Headquarters.

Witnesses have told local media that two ships were passing when the Golden Ray began to roll over. A possible tragedy is unfolding, as four crew members were reported missing as of late Sunday afternoon by the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Capt. John Reed, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, Cmdr. Norm Witt, Commander of Marine Safety Unit Savannah, and Lt. Lloyd Heflin, Sector Charleston, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator spoke at the briefing regarding to the Coast Guard’s ongoing operations to right the ship.

At approximately 2 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Charleston watchstanders were notified by the Glynn County 911 dispatch that the M/V GOLDEN RAY had capsized in the St. Simons Sound. The watchstanders immediately issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of multiple Coast Guard assets.

The vessel’s master and chief engineer are assisting authorities and salvage teams to develop plans to stabilize the vessel and continue rescue efforts. The GOLDEN RAY's crew size is 23 people;  there was one pilot aboard. 20 of the 24 people have been rescued so far.

Coast Guard units involved in the response include: two Coast Guard Station Brunswick Response Boat crews; rwo Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews; Coast Guard Cutter Heron launched to assist; Coast Guard Sector Charleston; and the Marine Safety Unit in Savannah. The Coast Guard Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT) has been launched to assist.

The Port of Brunswick Captain of the Port (COTP) has established an emergency safety zone in St. Simons Sound. Vessels are not authorized within .5 miles of the M/V GOLDEN RAY, which is laid over on its side.

Also assisting in the response are the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Moran Towing, SeaTow, Brunswick Bar Pilots Association, and the Glynn County Fire Department.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

According to Griff Lynch, executive director of Georgia Ports Authority, in responding to a request by the SBJ, "At approximately 2 a.m. this morning, the vessel Golden Ray capsized just off St. Simons Island. The Golden Ray is 656 feet long and 106 feet wide. The vessel departed Colonels Island Terminal just prior to the accident. 
We greatly appreciate the immediate response of the US Coast Guard, who are leading the search and rescue. Georgia Ports Authority leadership is on scene to coordinate with Coast Guard officials." 
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