Coast Guard Stages Dramatic Rescue Of Crew Members On Capsized Ship

By Bill Galluccio

September 11, 2019

The Coast Guard rescued the final four crew members who were trapped inside a capsized cargo ship off the coast of Georgia. Rescuers managed to save 20 of the crew members when the boat capsized on Sunday (August 8) but four of the crew members became trapped in the engine room when a fire broke out and forced the Coast Guard to suspend the rescue operation.

The trapped crew members managed to survive for nearly 40 hours in complete darkness, while the temperatures inside the ship climbed above 140 degrees.

"Pitch black dark. No water. No food. Disoriented. Covered in oil," Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Irwin told NBC's Today. "Just pure horror."

The Coast Guard had to drill a hole in the hull of the ship, named the Golden Ray, and then rappel down to reach the men. When the rescuers made contact with the men, they found three of them were huddled together in one compartment, while the fourth man was trapped behind a glass enclosure not far away. While the three men could hear the fourth crew member, they were unable to reach him.

When the Coast Guard finally reached the men, the first thing they asked for was tools so they could free their fellow crewmate. All four crew members were in relatively good condition and taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

Now that the crew members are safe, officials must figure out how to get the 650-foot, 71,000 ton cargo ship out of the water. The Port of Brunswick, which is one of the busiest in the nation, has been closed since the Golden Ray capsized. The Coast Guard says they hope to have the port open to one-way traffic by Thursday but admit that it may take longer to salvage the massive ship.

"This is a complex case," Cmdr. Norm C. Witt told reporters. "We have salvage to deal with on a large vessel. We have pollution mitigation efforts ongoing and some waterways and port operations issues, as well."

Officials are also trying to determine why the ship, which had just left the port and was carrying a shipment of 4,200 cars to Baltimore, capsized.

Photo: Getty Images

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