Investigators concluded the unstable loading likely resulted from errors by the ship's chief officer, who reported directly to the captain. The report said the chief officer wasn't properly trained to use the ship's computer that uses loading data to calculate its stability.
“The chief officer made errors with the ballast tank level data entry into the shipboard stability calculation computer," the NTSB report said, “which led to his incorrect determination of the vessel’s stability.”
As a result, the Golden Ray left the Port of Brunswick lacking 1,492 metric tons of ballast that it would have needed to meet international safety standards for stability, the report said.
The NTSB said G-Marine Service Co., the ship's operator and a subsidiary of South Korea-based shipping company Hyundai Glovis, has increased training for its officers on calculating ship stability since the Golden Ray capsized.
Demolition of the Golden Ray began in November, with crews using a towering crane to straddle the shipwreck. The crane’s winch and pulley system was attached to 400 feet (122 meters) of anchor chain used to tear through the ship’s hull like a dull sawblade.
That method was used to carve the shipwreck into eight giant chunks. The work was slow and sometimes messy. A large fire engulfed the vessel's remains in May as workers used torches to cut into the hull. And oil gushed from the wreck in late July, fouling roughly 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of beach and marsh grasses.
Roughly half of the wreck has been transported by barge to a scrapyard in Louisiana. Though the heavy lifting is ending, the remaining cleanup work is expected to take months. Cutaway sections of the ship docked in Georgia must be broken down further before they can be carried away by barge.
Meanwhile, mangled cars and other debris that fell from the wreck as it was being cut apart must be fished from the water before a large mesh containment barrier surrounding the site can be removed.
The NTSB investigates highway, railroad, aircraft and maritime crashes, but it has no regulatory authority.