Have you ever been calmly sleeping at night, when you suddenly bolt awake, with one thought seared into your mind: what is the condition of cars trapped inside a capsized cargo ship? Well, I’m delighted to tell you that you can finally sleep easy again, since a salvage team has used LIDAR equipment to image the interior of a the MV Golden Ray, a 600-foot cargo ship that capsized off the coast of the state of Georgia in September of 2019.
The massive Hyundai-built vessel overturned less than a half hour after leaving the Port of Brunswick, the result of an internal fire. Luckily, all crew were rescued and unharmed. It’s a massive boat to be wrecked like this; just look at this footage:
A wreck like this means a lot of cleanup work, and there’s currently plans to cut the boat up into eight big chunks and remove it. Before doing so, the Coast Guard Unified Command used laser-based LIDAR equipment to generate 3D imagery of cargo areas rendered inaccessible, and in these images you can see the state of the cars on board.
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The Golden Ray was carrying Hyundais and Kias built in Mexico and cars from other manufacturers—I can see some Chevy Tahoes in there—and was on its way to the Middle East.
The images look sort of like a parking garage where gravity failed:
Remember, the ship is on its side, hence the “floating cars.” These cars appear to be tied down, which is why they haven’t all plummeted to one side. That looks like a Chevy Tahoe there; these seem to be in remarkably good shape, considering.
Other cars on other decks didn’t fare as well:
I think the difference here is that this deck is submerged underwater, leading to corrosion and what looks like a complete dissolving of tires; I’m not sure I was aware that salt water could completely disintegrate tires before, but it sure appears that’s what’s happened here.
EDIT: The fire! Commenters wisely mentioned the fire may be responsible for the tire destruction. And that does look like fire damage on that truck. Duh.
This image of the ninth deck must be taken from the high side looking down, where all the cars have slid to the submerged side. This also gives a good sense of the vast scale of the vessel.
Work will begin on cutting the ship apart soon, so if you want to see about snagging a new, slightly damaged Tahoe, I guess you could hang out around St. Simon’s sound and yell “DIBS” when these things start falling out into the sea.
I think, according to maritime law, that means you can have it.