The South Korean car carrier, Golden Ray, was listing heavily off the coast of the southern U.S. state of Georgia on September 8, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A pilot and 23 crew members were aboard the vessel at the time, the USCG said, adding that 20 people have been rescued.
The operations had to be stopped due to a fire onboard the 656-foot ship, operated by South Korea’s Hyundai Glovis.
The authorities continued to stabilize the vessel in order to resume rescue operations for the remaining four seafarers aboard the 20,995 dwt car carrier.
Golden Ray, carrying about 4,000 cars bound for the Middle East, started listing after it became disabled in the early morning hours on Sunday in St. Simons Sound near Brunswick, Georgia. By evening the vessel was laid over on its side.
Media reports cited the South Korean Foreign Ministry as saying that the missing crew members have been confirmed to be in the engine room of the car carrier.
The authorities have established an emergency safety zone in St. Simons Sound and launched an investigation into the matter.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is monitoring coastal environmental conditions following the incident. It is unclear at this time if fuel has leaked from the ship.