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Golden Ray shipwreck: Crew member’s bad maths sank cargo ship carrying thousands of cars, report finds | World News

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A crew member’s error in calculating the weight of cargo on a ship loaded with thousands of cars most likely caused the vessel to capsize off the east coast of the US.

The South Korean freighter, Golden Ray, keeled over back in 2019, and its wreck is still partially in situ in the waters off the state of Georgia.

It was loaded with around 4,200 cars, and the report by the US National Transportation Safety Board estimates the incident caused losses of $204m (£147.7m).

Fire fighters spray water into the cut away mid-section of the cargo vessel Golden Ray, Friday, May 14, 2021, Brunswick, Ga. The Golden Ray had roughly 4,200 vehicles in its cargo decks when it capsized off St. Simons Island on Sept. 8, 2019. Crews have used a giant gantry crane to carve the ship into eight giant chunks, then carry each section away by barge. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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The Golden Ray’s wreck is still partially in situ in the waters off the US state of Georgia. Pic: AP

The investigation by the NTSB echoed what an expert from the US Coast Guard established at a public hearing last year – that the ship did not have enough water as ballast below decks.

This led to the 199 metre vessel being top heavy, and keeling over on 8 September 2019.

And the situation was made worse by the fact a door was left open on the lower decks – allowing seawater to flood in.

Some members of the crew were left stranded and had to be saved from the engine room – although the entire crew were eventually rescued.

The ship had only just left the Port of Brunswick, and was 70 miles off the coast when its manoeuvring system failed.

The mistake in ballast, of around 1,500 tonnes – was most likely due to an error by one of the senior members of crew.

The bow section of the vehicle carrier Golden Ray, with some of the 4,000 vehicles onboard, waits to be towed to a scrap yard, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The salvage operation uses a heavy lift twin gantries with a chain to cut the vessel into seven pieces before they are lifted onto a barge and scrapped. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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The South Korean freighter was loaded with around 4,200 cars. Pic: AP

“The chief officer made errors with the ballast tank level data entry into the shipboard stability calculation computer,” the NTSB report said, “which led to his incorrect determination of the vessel’s stability”.

The chief officer reports to the captain of the ship, and the document added he was not properly trained to use the software involved in calculating the ship’s stability.

Since the incident, the vessel’s operator, the G-Marine Service Company, has increased the training for its officers on calculating stability.

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Demolition of the Golden Ray began in November last year. Pic: AP

Demolition of the ship began in November last year, with massive, 122-metre-tall cranes being used to assist workers.

There have been various setbacks since then, including fires and oil spills.

The area has been netted off from the surrounding ocean, as cars and other debris fall into the ocean during the clearance.

Work is expected to take several more months.

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