Human error caused ship to capsize off Georgia coast causing $200M in losses, NTSB report says

ST. SIMONS, Ga. — Incorrect calculations for the stability of a Georgia cargo ship has been determined to be the probable cause of that ship capsizing, leading to almost $200 million in losses, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Golden Ray capsized off of St. Simons Island soon after leaving the Port of Brunswick with more 4,100 vehicles in its cargo decks on Sept. 8, 2019.

The pilot and 23 crew members were rescued from the wreckage, including 4 who were trapped inside the ship for nearly 40 hours.

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In the two years since then, crews have been working to remove the remains of the ship piece by piece. They recently completed what they say will be the final cut of the ship before it is fully removed.

The NTSB found that the Golden Ray did not meet international stability standards at its departure.

They say the probable cause of the capsizing was human error by the chief officer in determining the stability of the ship, leading to it tipping over the as the crew attempted a right turn.


“The circumstances of this accident show that even when transiting in protected waters, watertight integrity is critical to the safety of the vessel and its crew,” the report said. “It is essential that the operator ensure that crews verify that all watertight doors are closed in accordance with safety management system procedures.”

Due to fire, flooding and saltwater corrosion, the ship was determined to be a loss of an estimated $62.5 million. The cargo on board was valued at an estimated $142 million.

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