Savannah – On my way home to Savannah from a trip to Charleston, SC this morning, I began hearing Coast Guard Sector Charleston transmitting messages on Marine VHF Ch. 16 (156.800 MHz) about a cargo ship that had capsized in St Simon’s Sound with more than 20 persons on board. As I got closer to Savannah, I began hearing a lot of encrypted communications on CH 118 (164.900 MHz, NAC 293), which is used by USCG Station Brunswick and on CG 410 (413.000 MHz, NAC 293), which is used by USCG Sector Charleston air assets.
Once I got home, I quickly turned on the home station and began listening for related activity and started looking at the plots from my Mode-S receiver and ADS-B Exchange. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah based MH-65Ds 6531, 6544, and 6567 were all in air at the time. 6531 was working its way back to Savannah from St Simons Sound while 6544 was at St Simons Sound and 6567 was working its way down to the area. From home, I could hear the MH-65s working each other and surface assets on Marine VHF Ch. 12 (156.600 MHz). I’m guessing that’s what was in use for operations around the vessel.
A Brunswick News report indicated that the vessel is the Roll-On/Roll-Off ship Golden Ray. I checked an online AIS service and it showed that the Golden Ray was leaving the Port of Brunswick when it capsized in St Simons Sound in between St Simons Island to the north and Jekyll Island to the south. At the time, there were two Moran Tugs, Ann Moran and Dorothy Moran in the vicinity of the capsized ship.
The latest from the Brunswick News and the Coast Guard is that rescue operations are still underway. It states that although 20 persons were safely rescued, there are four crew members are still missing and possibly on board the ship. Rescue efforts are ongoing. The 656 ft long vessel had 23 crew and 1 river pilot aboard when it capsized. The Brunswick News report also states that from witnesses described, the Golden Ray and another ship were passing each other when the Golden Ray capsized.
From Savannah, I’m really not within radio range of most of the operations, but if I hear any further, I’ll post an update.