TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – We are taking a closer at a study on the impact bigger ships are having on Tybee island

The army corps of engineers report says their wake is putting beachgoers and boaters in possible danger.

These dangerous waves are caused by bigger ships usually going at a speed over 12 knots posing a threat to the shores of Tybee Island and all that go there.

The findings of an army corps of engineers study were recently presented to Tybee Island City Council. They asked for the study which monitored ship traffic and wake size.

The purpose was to determine its impact on the island’s northern shore, engineers used sensors mounted on Coast Guard ships – below water and near the shore to collect the data.  

“Larger ships are coming through which is really exciting, but they are causing a wake,” says Tybee city councilman, Brian West.  “And the wake is making its way around the current barrier in the water that should control the wakes and it’s coming to the north shore.”

West acknowledges that beachgoers often avoid wake warnings.

“And I believe there are signs up that say dangerous wake but people are like yeah right,” said West. “I mean people…their stuff has been washed away from the beach.”

But it can get a whole lot more serious than just losing a towel or sandals.

“Washed off the beach you know from the wake and struggled to get back to land. So it is a concern really all up and down the river channel,” said West.

The corps recommended several possible solutions including reducing ship speed and refurbishing and extending jetties.

“One is to create smaller jetties in the water closer to the shore so that the waves break up before they get to the shore,” said West. “Hopefully we can work with the ports and find a solution.”

The cost of the study was $350,000. The city and corps of engineers split the cost. There was no cost to taxpayers. Tybee’s share was paid through Georgia community affairs.