Dramatic images and footage released on Tuesday showed the rescue of four men who had been missing for more than 36 hours after early Sunday their cargo ship had capsized off the Georgia coast.
The South Korean crew members were the last after 20 had been previously rescued by the US Coast Guard. The four had been trapped deep inside the ship and were considered “missing” into Monday – leading rescue personnel to tap on the vessel’s hull. Eventually they heard a “tap” back and drilled a hole in order the communicate with the trapped men.
U.S. rescue workers manage to free the final crew member trapped inside a South Korean cargo vessel pic.twitter.com/TdeyYyt5kj
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 10, 2019
Monday’s harrowing and complicated rescue operation was described by Coast Guard officials speaking to CNN as follows:
Rescuers were dropped off via helicopter and drilled a small hole in the ship to communicate with the crew members, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Phillip VanderWeit said. As they worked to make the hole large enough to let in food, water and more air, temperatures climbed to 120 degrees outside and even higher inside the boat, Reed said.
By 3 p.m. three of the crew members had been safely rescued, and the fourth was freed a few hours later, Reed said.
When the final crew member exited the boat, rescuers cheered and clapped.
The cargo ship, named the Golden Ray, was reportedly a car carrier, something believed to have contributed to its destabilizing and severe listing which occurred early Sunday before the accident.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 10, 2019
The ship had capsized, and remained tipped on its side in the Port of Brunswick near St. Simons Island since Sunday.
* * *
Four crew members of a large international transport vessel went missing Sunday off Georgia after the boat began listing violently and caught fire. The vessel, identified in reports as the 656-foot Golden Ray, had 24 crew members aboard, 20 of which were rescued in a high risk US Coast Guard operation.
CNN has reported that four South Korean crew members are still being looked for after rescue efforts were temporarily disrupted when a fire broke out on the ship.
Dramatic coast guard images showed that the boat had capsized early Sunday, tipping on its side in the Port of Brunswick near St. Simons Island.
The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for four crew members after a cargo ship caught fire and capsized off the coast of Georgia. https://t.co/BrxS8jHQOR pic.twitter.com/Q8nKjRjklZ
— ABC News (@ABC) September 9, 2019
Given the Golden Ray was reportedly a car carrier, this could have contributed to its destabilizing and severe listing before the accident, though a specific cause has yet to be identified.
#Update Evacuations of the Golden Ray’s crew continue. All vessel traffic in the Port of Brunswick is currently suspended unless approved by the @USCG Captain of the Port. #HappeningNow pic.twitter.com/F7JbdGCShU
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 8, 2019
According to CNN, citing Coast Guard commander, Capt. John Reed:
Officials are working to stabilize the leaning vessel, he said. Once that’s done, rescue efforts will continue.
“The other outcome could be that it may be deemed more appropriate to go ahead and right the vessel and de-smoke and de-water before we are able to actually get in there and locate the four individuals,” Reed told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield in an interview Sunday.
The tanker tracker site MarineTraffic.com indicated the ship was sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and had been bound for Baltimore.
An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah lifts members from the capsized 656-foot vehicle carrier Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound. @WTOC11
Credit: U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville pic.twitter.com/xtSXlrpCYK
— Andrew Gorton WTOC (@AndrewGortonWx) September 8, 2019
The Coast Guard published dramatic rescue footage involving stranded crew members being lifted off the large cargo ship via helicopter, as well as some dropping into rescue boats.