Golden Ray Incident: Unified Command Working on Long-Term Salvage Plan

golden ray capsized
Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The Unified Command responsible the Golden Ray incident in Georgia’s St. Simon Sound is developing plans to remove fuel from the vessel as crews come up with a long-term salvage plan.

The response resumed in full on Monday after heavy weather suspended operations for a day on Sunday.

“The Unified Command continues to assess all avenues for the salvage plan and the process to remove pollutants from the Golden Ray,” the Unified Command said in an update on Monday. “Complex salvage operations have progressed to include skimming within the hull of the ship, drilling to allow access for internal air quality testing, and developing a lightering plan for pollutants.”

Specialists continue to actively monitor air quality around and inside the vessel and so far no impacts on air quality have been detected to date. Response teams, meanwhile, continue to canvas the shoreline and have identified minimal to no environmental impacts within the area.

As of now there are approximately 180 responders and 30 vessels assisting in the response, according to the Unified Command.

“Environmental inspection teams are continuously scanning the shoreline by air, boat, and foot, looking for evidence of oil. 5,300 feet of boom have been deployed surrounding Bird Island, and 18,400 feet of boom is strategically staged for use as needed,” the Unified Command said.

Commercial traffic in the Port of Brunswick has resumed on a case by case basis.

The Golden Ray was carrying around 4,200 when it capsized in the St. Simons Sound, at the entrance to the Port of Brunswick, early in the morning on September 8, as it was departing the port with a pilot and 23 crew members aboard.

All 24 people on board were subsequently rescued, including four crew members who spent more than a day trapped inside the vessel.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Golden Ray is operated by South Korean logistics company Hyundai Glovis and has capacity to carry 6,933 vehicles. The next port of call was Baltimore, according to AIS data.

The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems. Multiple federal, state, local and partner organizations are also assisting in the response.

“This is a complex incident and we are taking every possible step to protect the community and the environment, while ensuring the safety of our responders,” said Chris Graff, Gallagher Marine Systems Incident Commander.