U.S. Coast Guard rescuers pulled four men from a capsized ship on Monday. All four were taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Now port officials are scrambling to clear the waterway so that the busy shipping lane can reopen.
The Golden Ray,a giant ship that carries automobiles, overturned on Sunday while leaving a Georgia port. Immediately after the accident, the Coast Guard lifted 20 crew members into helicopters. But smoke and flames and unstable cargo made it too risky to venture further inside the vessel. Officials also worried that some of the 4,000 vehicles aboard may have broken loose.
Rescuers knew there were four remaining crew members. Rescuers heard noises inside. They thought they were some of the vehicles crashing around. By Monday, they knew the taps were responses to their own taps: Someone was alive inside! Captain John Reed says rescuers were “charged up knowing the people were alive.”
Workers drilled for 36 hours into the hull’s steel plates. They landed on the side of the ship and rappelled down the hull to drill a three-inch hole. Rescuers passed food and water through the hole to three of the men. Three of the South Korean crew members came out in the midafternoon. The fourth man was trapped in a separate compartment. He emerged three hours later. Video shows responders clapping and cheering as the final man climbed out of a hole in the hull and stood up.
The Golden Ray wreck has closed one of the busiest U.S. seaports for shipping automobiles. One ship can’t leave port. Four more are lined up waiting to come in.
After the rescue, a restaurant donated a meal, and a nearby volunteer-run center provided the seamen with clothes, toiletries, and Bibles. The cause of the capsizing remains under investigation.
Lt. Lloyd Heflin, who coordinated the effort, simply said, “Best day of my 16-year career.”
(People are shown on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach as the Golden Ray cargo ship is capsized in the background, off the Georgia coast, Sunday, September 8, 2019. AP Photo/Terry Dickson)