Cargo ship ‘listing heavily’ in Georgia port, 4 crew members missing, Coast Guard says

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Coast Guard crews and port partners respond to a disabled cargo vessel with a fire on board September 8, 2019, in St. Simons Sound, Georgia. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

(FOX) — Four crew members are unaccounted for after a large cargo ship overturned and caught fire near a major port in Georgia early Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard’s Seventh District said on Twitter that it was joined by local agencies with “multiple rescue assets” on the scene after the Golden Ray cargo vessel was “listing heavily” near St. Simons Sound in Brunswick, Ga.

The Coast Guard said there were 23 crew members and one pilot on board. All but four crew members have been safely evacuated from the ship, a 656-foot vehicle carrier.

The ship was leaving Brunswick when it drastically leaned to its side early Sunday. The Coast Guard said it was notified by a 911 call at about 2 a.m. of a capsized vessel in the sound.

“The watchstanders immediately issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of multiple Coast Guard assets,” the Coast Guard said.

The cargo ship can be seen on it’s side near St. Simmons Sound, Ga. (WJAX)

“We’re not sure exactly what occurred,” Justin Irwin, commander of Coast Guard Station Brunswick, told the Brunswick News.

Images released by the Coast Guard showed the large ship turned to one side.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Dickinson told the Associated Press it is not known 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.

Dickinson said it was not immediately known whether there were any injuries on board.

Glynn County first responders told Action News JAX they helped with the response where possible, but the ultimate responsibility for handling the situation lies with the Coast Guard.

The ship, a vehicles carrier, was built in 2017 and sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands, according to the vesselfinder.com. The name of the ship’s owner was not immediately available.

Coast Guard crews and port partners respond to a disabled cargo vessel with a fire on board September 8, 2019, in St. Simons Sound, Georgia. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Port of Brunswick has established an emergency safety zone in St. Simons Sound. Vessels are not authorized within a half-mile of the Golden Ray, which is lying on its side and on fire. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

The Port of Brunswick is a major deepwater port in Georgia, which is comprised of three terminals that makes up the facility, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.

“The port’s well-earned reputation for productivity and efficiency is heightened by its position as one of the fastest-growing auto and heavy machinery ports in North America,” the GPA’s website states. “Today, more than 12 major auto manufacturers, supported by three auto processors, utilize the Colonel’s Island Terminal.”

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