All rescued from ship amid fears of coastal dam­age

Gaso­line re­port­edly smelled in the area and vis­i­ble in the wa­ter.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexis Stevens [email protected]

Res­cuers work­ing to free the trapped crew mem­bers wanted to send word that help was on the way. They tele­graphed the mes­sage of hope from the hull of the dis­abled ship.

Tap, tap, tap.

Most crew mem­bers of the Golden Ray, which cap­sized Sun­day off the coast of Ge­or­gia, were al­ready safe. Four re­mained on­board Mon­day morn­ing as the ship lay on its side within view of the St. Si­mons Is­land Pier.

“Even­tu­ally, (res­cuers) got tap backs,” said Capt. John Reed, com­man­der of U.S. Coast Guard sec­tor Charleston. “Know­ing that the peo­ple were alive made all the dif­fer­ence.”

Three of the crew mem­bers had been to­gether on the ship and had been rescued by mid­day Mon­day. A fourth had been stuck be­hind glass in an engi­neer­ing con­trol room. By Mon­day evening, the fi­nal crew mem­ber was be­ing es­corted onto dry ground, smil­ing and wrapped in a blan­ket.

“Day­light,” he said with re­lief.

Ge­or­gia Ports Author­ity ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Griff Lynch greeted news of the suc­cess­ful res­cues with a word of thanks.

“Our prayers have been an­swered,” he said. “Right now we are work­ing closely with the Coast Guard to re­open the chan­nel so ves­sel traf­fic can move safely to and from our Brunswick ter­mi­nals.”

The Golden Ray, a South Korean ves­sel regis­tered out of the Marshall Is­lands, had de­parted the Brunswick port bound for Bal­ti­more about 1 a.m. Sun­day when a fire broke out on­board. It cap­sized in St. Si­mons Sound off the shore of St. Si­mons Is­land with 24 peo­ple aboard, in­clud­ing 23 crew mem­bers and a pi­lot from the Brunswick area. Twenty peo­ple, in­clud­ing the pi­lot, were rescued shortly there­after.

The ves­sel had ap­prox­i­mately 4,200 ve­hi­cles on board, ac­cord­ing to the Ports Author­ity. The ve­hi­cles re­main on­board the dis­abled ship

The cause of the in­ci­dent re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Au­thor­i­ties do not be­lieve the ship struck any­thing in the wa­ter.

Mean­while, en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates were wor­ried about the po­ten­tial dam­age to the wa­ter­way, where crews were re­mov­ing oil Mon­day af­ter­noon.

“Any leak is big,” said Su­san In­man of the Al­tamaha River­keeper. “This is just another blow to our coast.”

In­man, who serves as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s coast­keeper, said gaso­line could be smelled in the area and was vis­i­ble in the wa­ter, both signs of con­tam­i­na­tion. Crews were at­tempt­ing to con­tain oil with booms, or tem­po­rary bar­ri­ers placed in the wa­ter, she said.

“This is the wa­ter­way from the is­lands and the main­land and the area be­tween is a marsh­land, and it’s like a nurs­ery” for a va­ri­ety of dif- fer­ent an­i­mals, In­man said.

The work was just be­gin­ning late Mon­day, with plans un­der­way for even­tu­ally right­ing the ship and mov­ing it, of­fi­cials said. Sev­eral agen­cies and busi­nesses were as­sist­ing the Coast Guard, in­clud­ing the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Moran Tow­ing, SeaTow, Brunswick Bar Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion, and the Glynn County Fire Depart­ment.

“While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Si­mons Sound in­ci­dent, there re­mains a lot of work to do, threats to the en­vi­ron­ment, haz­ards to peo­ple and to the econ­omy through the port of Brunswick con­tinue to be ad­dressed through a uni­fied com­mand,” Reed said.

In­man said she it will take a collaborat­ive ef­forts to re­move the cargo ship while also min­i­miz­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact: “It’s fair to say we have no idea how this is go­ing to be or how long it’s go­ing to be.”

Source: map­s4news.com/©HERE STAFF

U.S. COAST GUARD

A res­cue team helps a crew mem­ber of the cap­sized Golden Ray on Mon­day af­ter­noon. He was one of four re­main­ing crew mem­bers on the ship.

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