071520_golden ray

As the opening day of testimony began into last September's wreck of the freighter Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, members of the public and press were collectively asking the same question: Huh?

Technical difficulties led to poor audio quality Monday and prompted an early closing to the first day of the federal hearing, which is being conducted primarily by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Fuzzy background noise and an inability to clearly hear those testifying frustrated members of the public and the press alike, who were invited to follow the proceedings via an internet livestream broadcast.

The principal participants in the hearing met at the Marshes of Glynn Library in Brunswick, but all others were barred from the room due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions. Sound issues hampered the livestream broadcast for those trying to follow the proceedings online almost from the start.

"This is sadly pointless to watch because we can't hear anything," Sylvia Spohn Murphy commented in the broadcast's adjoining chat room.

"Still difficult to hear the witness," wrote Jon Osgood, adding his lament to a host of others. "Any improvement would be greatly appreciated."

After testimony from Port of Brunswick harbor pilot Bruce Fendig, which was mostly garbled for online listeners, officials decided shortly after 2 p.m. to postpone the remainder of the hearing to work on improving the sound quality.

The hearing will resume at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, hopefully with better audio, said Coast Guardsman Jay Neiman, spokesman for the hearing. The hearing can be seen at https://livestream.com/uscginvestigations.

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