NTSB Opens Public Docket in Golden Ray Investigation

Docket is here: NTSB Docket - Docket Management System

I read the captain’s and chief officer’s interviews last night, the chief officer reported a GM of about 2.5 meters which sounds like a good GM. Around 1.2 would be tender and 3 or 4 meters stiff is my experience, don’ t know for sure with this particular ship of course

Not much info really.

But the pilot; Jonathan Tennant has a story to tell and he tells it well.

Port of Brunswick has excellent pilots and they know car ships. You can tell Tennant knows his stuff.


Interesting (and disturbing) is item #88 in the docket.

Figure 2 shows a graphical timeline of the last minutes, comparing different VDR-data:
List, Rate of Turn, RPM, Speed, Rudder Angle and Track.

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There is a lot of time spent on questions about salinity of the ballast and in the river where the ship was moored.

How much would that change the GM? Assuming it’s a stability problem the difference in salinity is not going to move a 2.5 meter GM any where near enough to cause a capsize. Not worth taking up that much time.

The questions don’t seem very well informed.

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JT Is an awesome guy, and he would be my first choice of any pilot in America to have onboard when something like this happens. He’s just a good dude, and the kind of guy you want in your corner when the chips are down.

I had the same observation. The questions about salinity, it impacts GM some, but you should never be close enough to the edge for it to be an issue.

There were a ton of questions about cargo shifting, if Captain Tennat heard shifting cargo, etc etc etc. Even on a “rough” day in the Saint Simons Sound you could transit there on a car ship with most of your cargo completely unlashed and not have any cargo shift at all.

They also asked if inbound the spin in the turning basin “felt” different, that is such a wildly different maneuver, having two tugs and thruster top you about while doing 1.5 knots vs. using a 20 degree rudder commaand at full ahead.

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…or it has to do with the absence of adapting the questions to the witness’ knowledge of the English language. If one wants to extract the truth out of a witness, he should certainly not ask in colorful sentences, ready to be printed.
This would give many possibilities to evade a reply, accidentally or elusive.

Some questions just dried up, without a real reply; the interrogator was probably frustrated…

It’s both I think, poorly phrased and uninformed. For example asking about the amount in the “sewage tank” wrt stability. Question is not understood, it’s called a black water tank shipboard, also irrelevant, not enough in the those tanks to move the numbers.

Also a lot of questions about the trim tanks, shifting ballast between trim tanks is not going to effect trim or GM.

Number 68 in the docket is stability info.

That’s a lot of cargo, about 8800 tons and not much ballast or fuel.


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Should have scrolled through the whole list instead of picking and choosing. The interesting document is this one:


Sailing C/M doesn’t require a deep understanding of stability. Weights are entered into the stability program and the software produces a report but the report has to be understood.

In this case GREEN = OK RED = NG

This is a table from the report:

The Golden Ray did not have sufficient righting arm upon departure.


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