Golden Ray wreck

The wreck of the Golden Ray pictured 11:25 a.m., May 15, 2021. Image courtesy Golden Ray Saint Simons Sound Island Live Feed

Fire Out on Golden Ray Wreck

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 7286
May 15, 2021

The fire inside the Golden Ray wreck in St. Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick was out as of Friday evening, the incident command confirmed.

“Early this evening our firefighting teams successfully put out the fire inside the Golden Ray wreck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “Safety is our highest priority and every member of the response displayed tremendous commitment to ensuring that emergency plans were followed during the entire fire fighting and evacuation evolution.”

Firefighting assets remained on station throughout the night to mitigate any potential fire.

All wreck removal personnel are accounted for and all non-essential personnel were evacuated shortly after the fire began, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response said. No injuries were sustained.

“Fires are an unfortunate possibility given the dangerous conditions inside the wreck,” said Incident commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Despite the extreme environmental conditions around the wreck, our personnel continue to safeguard the environment through our comprehensive monitoring and mitigation procedures on the water and at the shoreline.”

On-water pollution mitigation crews are continuing their routine 24-hour watch around the wreck site, monitoring for any potential debris or oil. Mobile air monitoring on the water and at sensitive areas in the community has also been underway. The “response environmental unit” was expected to conduct additional water sampling to measure for any impacts to water quality. Previous water sampling analyses did not show any water quality standards had been exceeded, the incident command said.

“Throughout the fire, our safety personnel did not detect any exceedance of air quality standards during their community monitoring using mobile air monitors,” said State on-scene coordinator John Maddox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division.

In an update, St. Simons Sound Incident Response gave the following details of how the fire started during pre-cutting operations, possibly as early as Thursday before flaring up Friday:

Responders increased their fire suppression efforts after smoke began emanating from the ship during pre-cutting operations. Pre-cutting operations involve the use of 6-foot cutting torches and fire suppression systems are actively used during such operations. Wreck removal personnel were conducting pre-cutting along the cut groove for Section Three in order to direct the cutting chain away from thicker steel identified along the cut path during a routine inspection on Thursday.

golden ray wreck on fire
Photo of the Golden Ray wreck on fire on Friday, May 14, 2021. Photo: Andy Jones

Lead salvage contractor T&T Salvage said crews will eventually gain access to the wreck to look at its structural integrity.

“Once we are able to access the site safely, we will conduct a thorough analysis of the structural integrity of the wreck as well as all wreck removal equipment,” said Matt Cooke of T&T Salvage, the lead salvage contractor.

The cutting and removal, which kicked off in early November 2020, is being performed by the heavy lift vessel VB-10000, which was evacuated of non-essential personnel during Friday’s fire.

The Port of Brunswick currently remains open to vessel traffic.

The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels.

Survey teams are continuing to assess the shoreline to find and remove any debris or other environmental impacts.

You can find a live feed of the Golden Ray wreck site at Golden Ray Saint Simons Sound Island Live Feed on Facebook.

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