Pile-Driving Kicks Off Golden Ray Wreck Removal in Georgia

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 53
March 2, 2020
A Weeks Marine crane prepares to drive a pile using a vibratory hammer Feb. 26, 2020, near St. Simons Island, Georgia, as part of the construction of the environmental protection barrier (EPB) around the motor vessel Golden Ray. Photo: Tyler Drapeau/St Simons Sound Incident Response

Salvage workers have started the job of constructing an environmental barrier around the Golden Ray wreck in St. Simons Sound, Georgia now four months since the ship grounded. 

Construction of the barrier kicks off with a pile-driving operation by workers with Weeks Marine who will drive approximately 70-80 piles into the sea floor.  

The St. Simons Sound Incident Response unified command said the pile-driving operations will only take place during daylight hours and said the public should expect construction noise. The operation to install the piles is expected to take about one month, the unified command said.

The environmental barrier will include a large floating containment barrier and netting to contain pollutants from escaping into the environment as the wreck is cut up. 

Once the barrier is completed, contractors will then remove the Golden Ray by cutting the hull – and everything inside the ship – into eight large sections for removal to a shore facility.

An official timeline for the wreck’s removal has not been released, and officials warn that the public should expect a lot of noise throughout.

“Each individual large-section cut will take approximately 24 hours, and once a cut begins, must continue until that cut is complete,” said John Maddox, Georgia Department of Natural Resource state on scene coordinator. “That means noise through the night during some 24-hour periods. We do not yet know when the cutting will begin, but we will make announcements for cutting operations once they are scheduled.”

The 656-foot 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 the vehicles remain trapped inside the inaccessible cargo holds.

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