Ships allowed to leave Port of Brunswick

The Coast Guard allowed two vessels that had been docked in the Port of Brunswick to depart in late afternoon Sept. 11 as a prelude to possibly reopening the Georgia port.

The Port of Brunswick, which is operated by the Georgia Ports Authority, has been closed since Sept. 8, when the 600-foot-long car carrier Golden Ray capsized as it was leaving the port, partially blocking the main shipping channel in St. Simons Sound.

The port has been closed while the Coast Guard rescued its crew and the ship’s position was stabilized in shallow water along St. Simons Sound, a waterway which leads to Fancy Bluff Creek and the Port of Brunswick’s terminals. While 20 of the crew members were rescued within 10 hours, another four were trapped in the bottom of the ship’s hull for about a day and half and only reached Sept. 10 after rescuers cut a hole in the bottom of the overturned ship.

The car carrier Emerald Ace and another large ship were allowed to make a “monitored transit” through St. Simons Sound by a “unified command” established by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Systems, a company that acts as the “responsible party” for Hyundai Glovis, the shipping company that operates the Golden Ray.

Kathy Knowlton, a spokeswoman for the joint command’s information center, said officials will evaluate how the passing of the two ships affected the Golden Ray. Officials will then determine if it is possible to open the port to traffic or if ship traffic in and out of the port will have to be limited in some way.

Action News Jax reported during its 5:30 p.m. newscast Sept. 11 that the local International Longshoremen’s Association union had told it the Port of Brunswick was scheduled to reopen at noon on Sept. 12.