Pilot Deliberately Grounded Golden Ray
The pilot on board the capsized car carrier Golden Ray deliberately took the vessel out of the channel and grounded her, according to a report in The Brunswick News.
The 656-foot vessel capsized on September 8 in St. Simons Sound while heading out to sea with 4,200 vehicles on board, including new Kia and Hyundai cars manufactured in Mexico for delivery to the Middle East. The vessel is believed to have had a fire on board, but official comments have not been made about the situation while the investigation is underway. All onboard were rescued, although it took around 30 hours to free four crewmembers trapped in the vessel's engine room.
The pilot onboard was Captain Jonathan Tennant of the Brunswick Bar Harbor Pilots' Association. Association spokesman Captain John Cameron said he was proud of Tennant's leadership during the rescue of the crew. He believes Tennant's actions would have contributed to the best possible outcome for the incident.
At the Brunswick State of the Port address Wednesday, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch praised Tennant's decision to take the stricken vessel out of the chanel. Lynch also thanked the U.S. Coast Guard, Brunswick Bar Pilots' Association and port workers for their efforts in the crew rescue, ongoing vessel salvage and reopening of the Port.
“The Coast Guard and our Brunswick maritime community came together in an impressive display of teamwork, focused first on the safety of the crew, and now on protecting the natural environment and the safety of vessel operations,” Lynch said. “In only four days, we were able to reopen the port, protecting the livelihoods of our direct employees and thousands of others across the region. On behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority, I would like to thank all those involved in the rescue and salvage operations.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Norm Witt of the Marine Safety Unit in Savannah and Captain John Reed are to be commended for the Coast Guard’s quick rescue of the ship’s crew and river pilot, and for their continuing work to restore normal operations. “I applaud the quick action of the Coast Guard, tugs, maritime engineers and emergency responders in the rescue of the ship’s entire crew and the river pilot on the Golden Ray,” Kemp said. “We all felt tremendous relief as the last sailor was brought to safety. Now that the mission has shifted to recovery, we appreciate the Coast Guard’s efforts to accommodate river traffic while salvagers work to right the vessel and clear the channel. The Port of Brunswick is an important asset to Georgia, supporting employment across an array of industries.”
In FY2019, the Port of Brunswick handled a total of nearly 614,000 units of Ro/Ro cargo, an increase of 4 percent, or 23,000 units. Including the 36,000 units moved via Ocean Terminal in Savannah, Georgia is the second busiest hub for the import-export of vehicles, machinery and other types of Ro/Ro cargo in the U.S.