- Kia Telluride SUVs replaced hundreds of smaller and lighter subcompact cars prior to the Golden Ray cargo ship’s catastrophic capsizing in September 2019, Car and Driver reports.
- The move likely led to improperly balanced cargo that made the ship more susceptible to rolling over.
- Among the cars destroyed in the wreck were 316 Tellurides.
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The “unprecedented” Golden Ray cargo ship wreck from September 2019 might have been caused by hundreds of subcompact cars being replaced heavier Kia Telluride SUVs, according to recent investigation findings, potentially changing the ship’s balance to its detriment.
As reported by Car and Driver, the ship was carrying thousands of brand-new Chevrolet Blazers, GMC Terrains, Mercedes-Benz SUVs, and Tellurides scheduled for import. However, roughly 285 Kia Forte and Hyundai Accent subcompact cars were replaced with heavier Tellurides when it stopped in Brunswick, Georgia, to unload and load cargo, the outlet’s Andrew Lawrence reported.
The move likely altered the Golden Ray’s balance and ultimately contributed to it capsizing. Among the cars destroyed in the wreck were 316 brand-new Tellurides.
“Forty of those SUVs had spots reserved on the Golden Ray’s 12th deck before the ship disembarked,” Lawrence wrote. “The difference between one of those small cars and a beefy Telluride? Roughly 1,200 pounds.”
A US Coast Guard forensic analysis from August said the cargo ship released at least 1,500 metric tons of ballast water just before it ported in Brunswick and was loaded with 1,000 metric tons of additional cargo afterward.
While the Tellurides did not make up all of that 1,000 metric tons of cargo, Car and Driver pointed out that the “water weight could have counterbalanced the severe list the ship experienced while turning out of the channel toward the Atlantic on its way out of town.”
In September 2020, First Coast News reported that the Golden Ray most likely rolled over because of the “instability of the ship and its cargo” and “listing in the turn to starboard” when it made a “sharp turn” off the coast of Georgia.
“This was because the vessel either had too much cargo at a high center of gravity or not enough liquid at a low center of gravity,” Lt. Ian Oviatt of the US Coast Guard said, according to the story.
The Golden Ray was a 656-foot vessel that could carry up to 6,933 cars, as Business Insider previously reported. It was en route to Baltimore, and its 23 crew members and pilot survived the wreck.