SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Coast Guard Air Station Savannah crew members who responded when the cargo ship Golden Ray capsized sailing out of the Port of Brunswick in September and hoist five crew members and the pilot captain to safety were recognized Friday for “their timely response, quick thinking, and life-saving actions.”
Multiple aircrews from Savannah responded when the 656-foot South Korean-flagged ship carrying over 600 cars with a crew of 24 overturned onto St. Simon Sound before daybreak Sept. 8, 2019.
While most of the crew members were pulled off the ship by Station Brunswick boat crews and other first responders, four crewmembers remained trapped inside. Aircrews conducted multiple sorties, delivering rescue personnel and critical tools to the disabled vessel by using its starboard side as a landing pad until the remaining four were rescued through a hole cut through the hull of the ship.
The Coast Guard captain who led the team called the rescue “quite a miracle.”
A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from @USCG Air Station Savannah hoists crew members from the overturned freighter Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound near Brunswick, Ga., yesterday. U.S. Coast Guard crews saved 20 people and are working to extract those remaining on the ship. pic.twitter.com/rDppiFEypR— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) September 9, 2019
Rear Adm. Eric Jones, Coast Guard 7th District commander, and Master Chief Petty Officer Devin Spencer, 7th District command master chief, presented Air Medals to Lt. Robert Mineo and Lt. Jeb Slick, both helicopter pilots, and to Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Young and Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Newberg, both aviation survival technicians.
Jones and Spencer also presented Coast Guard Commendation Medals to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Blitz, an aviation maintenance technician, and Petty Officer Joseph Kelly, an avionics electrical technician.
Mineo, Slick, Young, and Newberg, Blitz, and Kelly were instrumental in rescuing crew members from the ship.
The ship remains on its side on the sound. Salvage crews have been assembling materials to build a barrier around the ship so it can be cut into pieces and hauled away -- hopefully before hurricane season begins.
The Joint Information Center said crews planned to begin driving piles Friday but that was delayed due to high winds and heavy seas. If the weather cooperates, that work will begin Saturday.