(CNN)For the first time in the year since a 656-foot cargo vessel capsized off the coast of Georgia, crew members and the ship's owners are speaking publicly about the moments before the Golden Ray listed, overturned, and triggered a multiday rescue effort to save the 24 people on board.
New testimony reveals what happened before the Golden Ray capsized off the Georgia coast
The vessel has remained on its side in the St. Simons Sound -- with its cargo of more than 4,000 vehicles still inside -- since September 8, 2019. The plan to have cut it into pieces and hauled away is currently paused until early October because of weather and Covid-19 related challenges.
A public hearing, part of the investigation into why the vessel capsized, wraps up on Tuesday. Here's what we know so far:
Capt. Jonathan Tennant, the pilot who steered the ship out of the port at 1 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2019, recalled calm winds and good visibility. He said typically there are warning signs when something is wrong -- alarms, the sound of crew members speaking rapidly in a native language, the engine room calling up. But none of that happened.
"Everything was just as normal as it could be, until it capsized," Tennant said.
Tennant told investigators the ship started leaning in a turn and started to over-rotate to starboard. He applied what's known as counter-rudder to reduce the rate of the turn, but it wasn't enough. He said the accident happened within seconds.
"When I felt like I was losing control of the vessel, I reached behind me where I propped up the ship's radio and said to Jamie on the inbound, 'watch out, Jamie. I'm losing her,' in which time she capsized, I dropped the radio, held onto the gyro, the ship capsized, I tried to ease the rudder, still trying to drive the ship."
Tennant said he had no context that the ship's rudder and propeller were already out of the water.
"I was still like an airline pilot trying to drive the plane, trying to solve the problem until it flew into the ground," he said.
He said he saw fear in the faces around him.
The other crew members were South Korean nationals. Twenty people were rescued within a few hours. Four remaining crew members stayed trapped in the engine room.
The last person aboard, Junyong Kim, was rescued about about 36 hours after the accident.
He gave a written testimony for the hearing this week. Kim, the first engineer on the ship, also said nothing seemed out of the ordinary until the ship turned sideways.
In his statement, Kim said that he was in the engine room, trying to protect himself and the second engineer.
"I grabbed him not to fall down to the end of the engine room because the engine room was ... a bit long. And if he falls down to end, he could be injured. So, I try to grab him to not fall down to the end of this."
Kim said the generator went out, the engine shut down, and the standby generator also went out.
He described water rising, and the room becoming incredibly hot. Capt. John Reed of the US Coast Guard testified separately that the inside reached more than 150 degrees, with passageways becoming a "death trap."
Kim said he and others eventually went into the water that had risen in the engine room to stay cool.
Smoke was visible throughout the rescue mission, in