A naval architect testified on Tuesday that the Golden Ray ballast levels did not comply with stability regulations when the aircraft carrier capsized while leaving the Port of Brunswick in September 2019.
“If the ship held additional ballast on board the ship that was dumped during the Freeport-to-Jacksonville voyage, this would result in full compliance with the 2008 Whole Stability Code and would most likely prevent the ship from capsizing,” said Lt. Ian Oviatt of the US Coast Guard Marine Security Center at Washington.
The roll-on / roll-off ship has sailed from Freeport, Texas, to Jacksonville, Florida, before continuing to the Port of Brunswick in Georgia. Oviatt said his analysis showed the Golden Ray did not comply with the International Maritime Organization’s Code of Intact Stability during one of the two previous voyages.
“Even though the right arm curves on these two previous voyages are a little more stable to support, they are still far below the reference loading conditions. Our results show that the ship did not comply with the 2008 Whole Stability Code during one of the previous voyages, “he said.
So the Golden Ray could have flipped over on its way to Jacksonville or Brunswick but that didn’t happen because the amount of weight it was carrying was greater, Oviatt decided.
“During the Freeport-to-Jacksonville voyage, the ship emitted about 1,500 metric tons of ballast,” he said. “The additional straightening energy provided by these 1,500 tonnes of ballast on the reverse voyage has likely caused the ship to capsize.”
Oviatt explains why he believes that a lack of right energy is likely to cause the Gold Rays to reverse.
“Turning with the maximum possible rudder at the maximum possible speed is usually harmless for most cargo ships. However, in cases where there is only a small amount of right energy remaining, the dynamic effect of the turn can easily overcome the remaining right energy and cause a significant heel or upside. “Our conclusions suggest that this is possible with the Golden Ray,” he said.
A lack of starboard energy will occur if “the ship has too much payload at a high vertical center of gravity or not enough fluid at a low vertical center of gravity,” explains Oviatt.
If the ship kept additional ballast on board, it would likely not capsize, he said.
Oviatt testified on the final day of a hearing conducted by the Coast Guard together with the National Transportation Safety Council, maritime administrator of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Maritime Safety Court of Korea. Golden Ray, who remained by his side on St. Simons Sound has since ran aground and capsized on September 8, 2019, operated by South Korean shipping and logistics company Hyundai Glovis.
Captain Blake Welborn, the Coast Guard’s chief investigator, said hearing will determine, in part, the cause of the accident, the adequacy of the ship’s safety management system, and whether there are errors or omissions related to overturning or response.
Welborn did not say Tuesday when the findings from the trial would be announced.
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