Rescue and salvage crews were expected to continue searching for four missing crewmen and to stabilize a massive ocean-going freighter, carrying more than 4,000 vehicles that capsized and is burning off the coast of Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
The ship, The Golden Ray, is operated by Hyundai Glovis, and was loaded with vehicles belonging to Hyundai and Kia when it caught fire rolled over on its side in St. Simons Sound not far from the Port of Brunswick, according a report from the South Korean capital of Seoul
The Port of Brunswick is a major destination for the ocean-going freighters that carry vehicles bound both for North America. The Golden Ray was reportedly destined for the Middle East.
Investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies will likely try and determine if the The Golden Ray’s cargo of vehicles shifted during its passage up the coast of Florida in the heavy seas on the heels of Hurricane Dorian.
Websites that track ocean-going shipping said The Golden Ray was near Jacksonville, Florida, on Sept. 6, and Georgia on Sept. 7. Before that it was off Vera Cruz, Mexico, on Aug. 22, but appears to slow its passage northward as the hurricane smashed into the Bahamas and threatened Florida.
It isn’t clear if weather conditions caused the ship to lurch. Hurricane Dorian brushed past the Georgia coast last week before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, the Coast Guard said.
Major hurricanes can churn up heavy seas with waves of between 20 foot and 40 feet and a large freighter, the El Faro, sank with all 34 hands off the coast of Florida during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it was notified at 2 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, via a 911 call that the ship was in trouble. The rescue operation saved 20 crewmen, but four were still missing, according to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Capt. John Reed said rescuers determined the situation, as smoke and flames appeared, was too risky to go further inside the vessel were trying to stabilize the 656-foot ship.
“Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew remembers who remain on board,” Reed said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
The overturned ship hasn’t released any pollutants so far, but mitigation responses are ready in case they’re needed.