A public hearing on the federal investigation into last September’s shipwreck of the car carrier Golden Ray will begin Monday at the Marshes of Glynn Library in Brunswick, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The hearing is part of the ongoing investigation that is being led by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. Access to the actual meeting is being prohibited due to COVID-19 precautions. However, the public can tune in and participate via live-streaming. The hearings will be live-streamed and recorded each day at livestream.com/USCGinvestigations.
The public hearings run from Monday through Friday of next week, and will resume the following week, Sept. 21-22. The hearings begin at 10:30 a.m. each day.
The Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal and the Marshall Island Maritime Administrator also will participate in the hearings.
The hearing’s focus will be on the Golden Ray’s condition prior to the disaster, in which the 656-foot-long ship overturned in the St. Simons Sound on Sept. 8, 2019, while heading out to sea with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles. It will center additionally on the loading process for the Golden Ray at the Port of Brunswick, as well as the ship’s regulatory compliance record.
Those wishing to ask questions, provide information or submit public input can email their queries to USCGGoldenRay@gmail.com.
“This email will be checked regularly and all correspondence will be acknowledged,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Wednesday.
The incident’s destruction of the Golden Ray, the damage to government property and last September’s substantial oil leaks into surrounding waters warranted a formal Coast Guard investigation, said Read Adm. Eric C. Jones, who initiated said investigation.
Coast Guard Capt. Blake Welborn is the shipwreck’s lead investigator, assisted by several specialists and technical experts.
Sue Inman, Coastkeeper for the Altamaha Riverkeeper, lauded the Coast Guard for holding the public hearing as a means to share information with the public as well as provide public participation in the proceedings. But she hopes the hearings will provide tangible information about the extent of environmental damage as a result of oil and other pollutant leaks from the ship.
“The NTSB report is a huge step forward in transparency,” Inman said. “While this important step will shine light on the cause of the capsize, we are still no closer to determining the extent of the damage done to the environment and the economy than we were a year ago. It is beyond time for the (Georgia) Department of Natural Resources and the USCG to begin a Natural Resources Damage Assessment so that we can know the extent of the damage caused by Hyundai.”
The ship is owned by the South Korean company, Hyundai Glovis.
The public hearings are just another phase in the investigation, which will remain ongoing for some time to come, a Coast Guard spokesman said. In general, results of such Coast Guard shipwreck investigations are intended to improve mariner and ship safety at sea, Jones said. Such investigations are not intended to determine civil or criminal wrongdoing.