5 days after cargo ship capsized, traffic moves through Port of Brunswick again

Salvage of M/V Golden Ray expected to take week if not months

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Brittany Muller - Reporter

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday afternoon on Twitter that the Port of Brunswick is "back open for business."

Shortly after noon, a roll-on, roll-off car carrier from Wallenius Wilhelmsen began sailing carefully past the same type of cargo ship, the Golden Ray, that capsized in St. Simons Sound early Sunday morning while leaving port, forcing a halt to all commercial traffic for days.

During the Savannah State of the Port, Kemp said: "Our ports are key drivers of our economy. They drive our economy because they touch every single part of our state, including rural Georgia."

The Coast Guard said seven vessels had been waiting offshore to come into port since the Golden Ray overturned. Two went out of port Wednesday. Four were coming into port Thursday and the goal for Friday is to bring three more.

According to the Coast Guard, 50 vessels come in and out of the Port of Brunswick every month. 

The Coast Guard also said the Golden Ray has approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel. Officials have located and sealed three fuel vents. Some of the tanks will be pumped out and others will be sealed into place because of their location. 

In the meantime, the Coastal Health District updated a swimming advisory for beaches on St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. If beachgoers see a sheen of oil, they should not swim, according to health officials.

"We came down here to go swimming and we're going to go swimming if we have to spread through the oil," said Ricky Blanchard, a visitor from North Carolina. "We decided this is something I'll never see again; why don't we come look at the thing. So that's why we're down here."

According to the Coast Guard, 4,300 feet of boom have been deployed near the ship and Bird Island to help contain the vessel's oil and protect oyster beds.

A safety zone has been established a half-mile mile around the Golden Ray. The Coast Guard hopes to shrink the zone Thursday, as authorities are making progress.

At this time, officials are still investigating what caused the ship to overturn.

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