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Assessments of the Golden Ray wreck continue

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Response engineering teams continue to assess the Golden Ray wreck prior to recommencing cutting operations. The VB-10000 is fully-operational.


A thorough analysis of the wreck removal equipment concluded that the VB-10000, the cutting apparatus and fire suppression equipment are fully operational following a fire inside the Golden Ray wreck on May 14, 2021.

A preliminary engineering analysis confirmed that the lugs and structural members of Section Three are in satisfactory condition and a complete analysis may prescribe additional reinforcement or repair measures to ensure safe lifting operations. Once the testing is complete on Section Three, wreck removal personnel will make final preparations to recommence cutting operations to separate the section from the remainder of the wreck.

Naval architects and response engineers will continue to assess the structure of the remaining Golden Ray wreck and the lifting lugs welded to the top of the wreck to determine optimal lifting weights for each section. Their calculations combine data from previous lifts along with data collected from non-destructive testing and metallurgical analyses of the topside of the wreck and each lifting lug. If any section exceeds the recommended lifting weight, weight-shedding operations will commence.

“We are confident that we can safely resume cutting operations after carefully assessing all of our equipment and the wreck itself,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “We are completely focused on our goal of safely removing the remainder of the Golden Ray while safeguarding the surrounding environment and the shipping channel throughout the process.”

Rope access technicians and divers completed pre-cutting on remaining sections of the wreck which included drilling additional drain holes and removing plates of exterior steel along projected cut grooves.

From left, U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator for the response accompanies Lt. Ben McKeathen and Andrew Lawrence of the Salvage Engineering Response Team (SERT) and Cmdr. Heather Mattern of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston during an inspection of the topside of the Golden Ray wreck on Tuesday St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Response engineers use “coupons” which are cut-out samples from the Golden Ray wreck, pictured, to conduct a metallurgical analysis of the sampled areas on the wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Rope Access Technicians conduct a magnetic particle inspection of a lifting lug welded to the topside of Section Three of the Golden Ray wreck during non-destructive testing (NDT) on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Personnel aboard the VB-10000 conduct a fire drill on Sunday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The UC advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter to ensure the safety of our responders and the public. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) around the wreck site and near response facilities is discouraged due to safety. UAVs are distractions that can lead to near misses, mishaps and injuries. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.


Tavo Gonzalez of Gallagher Marine Systems and U.S Coast Guard Petty Officer Suzanne McNair survey the shoreline along the east side of Jekyll Island on Tuesday. Responders survey approximately 130 miles of shoreline each week. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A display of debris recovered during shoreline surveys of St. Simons Island on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Aerial photo of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB), the VB-1000 and the remainder of the Golden Ray wreck on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Shoreline survey teams continue to recover increased numbers of small, plastic debris from the shorelines of Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. All debris is sorted, catalogued and disposed of according to the response debris plan. To learn more about the response debris program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – Debris Removal Operations

Safety personnel continue air monitoring in the community using mobile air monitoring equipment. Community air quality analysis and water sample analysis continues to confirm no exceedances of air and water quality standards.

On-water response teams continue to mitigate very light oil sheens and debris observed around the wreck site. Natural Resource Advisors continue to monitor areas around the wreck site and the Environmental Protection Barrier for any wildlife activity or impacts.

If you encounter what you believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620. Responders evaluate each report, survey the vicinity and recover any shipwreck debris in addition to their daily surveys of the water and the shoreline. If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.

The Unified Command (UC) developed a multi-layer approach for observing, surveying, documenting and mitigating any releases of oil or debris during cutting and lifting operations. Recovery personnel are on-station at the Environmental Protection Barrier, at the shoreline and on the water around the Golden Ray shipwreck. Responders are maintaining protective boom at sensitive locations around St. Simons Sound.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the motor vessel Golden Ray response operations.

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