Salvors lifts the last section of the Ro / Ro Golden Ray wreck

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Courtesy St. Simons Sound Incident Response

Posted on Oct 17, 2021, 9:35 PM by

The maritime executive

Saturday, the lifting operation to remove the very last section of the wreckage from the ro / ro Golden ray finally started up, 770 days after the ship grounded in St. Simons Sound, Georgia.

Preparations for the final section winch have been underway for some time. First, two sections that had been removed previously had to be transhipped onto a deck barge to be shipped to a recycling yard in Louisiana. The mooring works of these two sections for the sea and the preparation of the deck barge for its voyage are continuing. Once this work is completed and a suitable weather window is open, the towing operation can start.

A dozen response vessels recovered loose debris and deployed an absorbent boom to deal with the slight oil reflections that were spotted during Saturday’s lifting operations. Incident Command’s pollution response teams are monitoring the 24-hour Golden ray, and they deploy as needed to reduce the impact of spills, reflections and floating debris.

The extent of the debris field at the wreckage site has not yet been disclosed, and bottom clean-up operations will continue after the vessel itself is withdrawn. Likewise, the total impact of oil spills occurring during cutting and lifting operations is not fully known. Fletcher Sams, the executive director of the local environmental group Altamaha Riverkeeper, requested a natural resource damage assessment (a federal study typically performed by NOAA) to determine the cumulative impact of the Golden ray grounding. “The region’s natural resources have been continuously damaged for two years,” he told AP in August.

Clean-up crews pick up floating debris during lifting operations Oct. 16 (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

A skimmer vessel cleans a layer of oil during lifting operations, October 16 (St. Simons Strait Incident Response)

Georgia’s Ministry of Natural Resources is committed to assessing environmental damage after the last wrecks are cleared and the remaining potential sources of pollution have been cleaned up. The process “will determine whether these injuries require further action and potential compensation,” the DNR said in a statement. If the state finds a reason for compensation for environmental damage, it could add to insurers’ existing bill of $ 850 million for the cost of the ship, cargo and the wreckage removal project.

The Golden ray ran aground and partially capsized in St. Simons Strait, Georgia in September 2019. During an outbound transit in calm conditions, a routine turn to starboard turned into an uncontrolled runaway maneuver , ending with the stranded ship resting on its side.

Lt. Ian Oviatt, a staff engineer at the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center, told the NTSB the vessel took too little ballast for its cargo. “The cause of the capsizing of the vessel was the lack of righting energy due to the way the vessel was loaded,” Oviatt told an NTSB panel last September. “The vessel could have taken additional ballast to be in compliance. The NTSB came to a similar conclusion in its final victim report.


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