Coast Guard concludes public hearing for Golden Ray capsizing incident

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The U.S. Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board, Republic of the Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator and the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal concluded the formal public hearing proceedings Tuesday. The joint investigation board reviewed and considered evidence related to the capsizing of the motor vessel Golden Ray, which occurred on Sept. 8, 2019.

The hearing was broadcast live, recorded, and can be viewed at https://livestream.com/USCGinvestigations.

Due to ongoing risk mitigation efforts during the novel coronavirus pandemic, physical public and media attendance was not permitted.

Documents, exhibits, board biographies, and other hearing information can be viewed at https://www.news.uscg.mil/news-by-region/7th-district-southeast/golden-ray-formal-investigation-hearing/.

The formal hearing convened daily Sept. 14 through Sept. 18, and Sept. 21 and 22.

The hearing reviewed the condition of the ship prior to and at the time of the casualty. It reviewed the ship, owner, operator organizational structures and culture, the regulatory compliance record of the vessel and the loading process for the port of Brunswick.

Although the public portion of the investigation has concluded, members of the formal investigation team will continue to draft a report and ultimately provide recommendations to improve any practice, procedure, policy or regulation in order to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.

“On a personal note, my close association with this investigation has reaffirmed the strong cooperative spirit within the local and maritime communities as a whole,” said Coast Guard Capt. Blake Welborn, lead investigating officer. “As I learned about those involved and their actions, I became more impressed by the communal cohesiveness in which members diligently labored for the betterment of all. I thank you and commend this community for rallying around those impacted by and responding to this significant incident. If not for the selfless, quick and committed actions of some, it would most certainly have been more catastrophic.”

“First, I would like to thank Capt. Welborn and the Coast Guard marine board for including our agency in this hearing, and for their exceptional cooperation throughout this investigation,” said Capt. David Flaherty (USCG, ret.), senior marine engineer and casualty investigator at the NTSB. “I would also like to thank all the parties to the investigation for their continued support with this casualty investigation despite all of the challenges and limitations of the pandemic.”

At a future date, a separate report of the NTSB findings will be issued, which will include the agency’s official determination of the probable cause of this accident and, if appropriate, the safety board will issue recommendations to correct safety problems discovered during this investigation. These recommendations may be made in advance of the report.

The U.S. Coast Guard is jointly conducting the investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal, representatives for Hyundai Glovis and G-Marine, and the Brunswick Bar Pilots Association.

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