In the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 8, the Golden Ray listed heavily to the side before rolling over as it was leaving the Port of Brunswick. Twenty-three crew members and a captain were on board, according to news reports.
Atlanta-based WSB-TV reported that a rescue team heard noises coming from inside the ship on Monday morning. The Coast Guard was able to confirm signs of life just before 11 a.m. local time.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 9, 2019
The U.S. Coast Guard tweeted at 10:53 a.m. that “salvage crews [have] made contact with crew members in the #GoldenRay. Conditions unknown. Extraction being planned.”
Before, 20 crew members were evacuated from the ship before rescues determined that the smoke and flames made it too risky.
Capt. John Reed, commander of the Coast Guard Sector Charleston, described what happened at a news conference.
“As smoke and flames began to appear our crews, along with the Glynn County heavy rescue team, assessed that the situation was too risky to further go inside the vessel to attempt to locate the four individuals who remain missing at this time,” Reed told CNN.
The black smoke has ceased, he added.
“But we are unable to determine specifically without going inside whether the fire has been completely extinguished,” Reed told the news outlet.
The Coast Guard said it was notified of the capsized vessel by a 911 call at about 2 a.m. Sunday.
The cause remains under investigation. Dickinson said it isn’t clear if weather conditions caused the ship to lurch. Hurricane Dorian was already well beyond the Georgia coast, where it blew past last week before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
The Coast Guard said the overturned ship hasn’t released any pollutants so far, but mitigation responses are ready in case they’re needed.
The Golden Ray is flagged out of the Marshall Islands and was headed to Baltimore, according to the website vesselfinder.com. The ship’s registered owner is a South Korean company.
The Port of Brunswick, one of the busiest U.S. seaports for shipping automobiles, is currently closed to vessel traffic, with an established emergency safety zone in St. Simons Sound. Vessels are not authorized within a half mile of the Golden Ray. Nearly 614,000 vehicles and heavy machinery units moved across its docks in the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.