The salvage of the Golden Ray car carrier near the Port of Brunswick in Georgia is is moving into wreck removal phase now four months since the ship grounded.
The Unified Command (UC) announced late Tuesday that Texas-based T&T Salvage has been hired to conduct the wreck removal.
As of now, the UC continues to develop and refine the plan for the on-site and full-scale demolition of the vessel in St. Simons Sound. Currently, it is coordinating with experts to install a barrier around the wreck so that demolition can begin.
“This is a big step forward in this response, but there is still a significant amount of work to be done,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Matt Baer, federal on scene coordinator for the incident. “While we cannot operate without risk, the UC remains focused on mitigating the overall risk to the environment while ensuring the safe removal of the ship. The next phase will include construction of an environmental protection barrier. We have not made a decision on exactly what type of barrier will be constructed given the complex nature of the response, but we are close.”
The wreck removal phase follows the lightering of fuel from the vessel headed by contractor DonJon-SMIT. During that phase, salvage workers and divers gained access to 26 fuel tanker inside the Golden Ray to remove more than 320,000 gallons of oil and water. At the time of completion, the Unified Command said it was still working to determine an accurate volume of fuel onboard at the time of the incident and the amount discharged into the environment. More recently, the ship’s rudder and propeller were removed to reduce strain on the wreck.
“We’d like to thank the initial response contractor, DonJon-SMIT, for their hard work and commitment throughout this project,” said Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party. “This is one of the most complicated marine casualty responses in U.S. history. DonJon-SMIT’s commitment to safety, along with hundreds of other responders, resulted in no injuries despite all the emergent hazards they faced.”
The UC includes the federal on scene coordinator, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state on scene coordinator, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the responsible party, represented by Gallagher Marine Systems.
The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Bay as it departed Georgia’s Port of Brunswick on 8 September 2019. All twenty-three crew members and one pilot were evacuated safely. Due to the environmental threat, the salvage will consist of removing all cargo and components from the vessel and cutting it up in place in St. Simons Sound.