Seoul to help with Golden Ray probe

Golden Ray USCG. Credit: US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Dickinson

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) has announced that it will join the US National Transportation Safety Board in investigating the fire on board the Hyundai Glovis car carrier Golden Ray.

The 2017-built, Marshall Islands-flagged Golden Ray capsized and caught fire in St. Simons Sound near Brunswick port, Georgia, on 8 September 2019, while transporting 4,200 cars around the US East Coast.

The US Coast Guard rescued all the ship’s 24 crew members, comprising 10 South Koreans and 13 Filipinos, after a 41-hour operation. Focus has now shifted to the salvage work and removing the ship from the water.

Golden Ray is part of the fleet of Hyundai Glovis, the shipping arm of Hyundai.

The MOF said that it judged the incident to be a major maritime accident that required international co-operation and set up a special investigation department in accordance with the relevant laws to initiate an accident investigation.

In recent years, South Korean ships, such as the ferry Sewol and the ore carrier Stellar Daisy, have been involved in highly publicised fatal accidents, sullying the image of the country’s maritime safety.

The MOF said that by requesting co-operation from the US authorities and agreeing on a joint investigation plan, the team plans to dispatch four investigators to the site, including its investigation head, Kim Byung-gon.

The on-site investigation team will conduct interviews with accident-related persons, on-site surveys of ships and accident areas, and will secure data on Golden Ray’s operations, such as the vessel’s logbook.

Kim said, “This investigation is conducted in co-operation with the US authorities and the flag state to identify the cause of the accident and prevent a recurrence of such accidents.”