BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Cutting operations to separate Section Three from the remainder of the Golden Ray wreck resumed on Wednesday.
Wreck removal personnel resumed cutting operations on Wednesday after completing required maintenance on the cutting apparatus. Welding technicians continue to make repairs to the side plates of the lifting lugs for Sections Four, Five and Six on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck. The side plates of the lifting lugs deformed due to heat generated from the fire which occurred inside the wreck on May 14, 2021. Response engineers will reinspect the lugs using non-destructive testing once the repairs are complete.
The Unified Command (UC) approved a plan permitting the use of Low Hazard Flexible Linear-Shaped Charges (LH FLSC) to execute precise cuts through reinforced steel brackets obstructing the cutting chain path on an as needed basis by the response engineers and the salvage master. The UC consulted with engineering and environmental experts from federal and state agencies during the planning and permitting process prior to approving the use of the cutting tool. Federally licensed and qualified personnel will follow strict safety protocols for the storage, transport and handling of the cutting charges and fire suppression systems will be energized before, during and after charge cutting operations. Any potential environmental impacts will be minimal because all cutting charge detonations will be confined to the interior of the wreck above the water line and remotely fired from a safe site on the topside of the wreck. Response safety personnel will monitor ambient noise levels during any cutting charge detonations.
“Low hazard flexible linear-shaped charges are another industry-standard, high-precision cutting tool,” said lead salvage contractor T&T Salvage President Mauricio Garrido. “We’ve added it to our list of approved pre-cutting methods in order to sever any heavily-reinforced steel obstructions from the cutting chain path on an as-needed basis.”
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “By using the cutting charges, we can greatly reduce any safety risks to our personnel when accessing the interior of the wreck to clear any obstructions while continuing a removal operation that safeguards the community and the environment.”
The cutting chain cycles between Section Three and Section Four of the Golden Ray wreck during cutting operations on Wednesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Wreck removal personnel refit and repair the cutting apparatus blocks used to cycle the cutting chain on Friday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
A welder cuts through a deformed side plate during lifting lug repair operations on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck on June 16, 2021. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Welders guide a newly fabricated side plate into position during lifting lug repair operations on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck on Monday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The Unified Command (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.
Two utility tugs stand watch at the crew access point in the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) as a crew transport vessel transits to the VB-10000. The utility tugs are part of a number of vessels that remain on station 24hrs a day to monitor and mitigate any potential environmental impacts. On Thursday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Response pollution mitigation teams maintain a supply of sorbent material and containers for spent sorbent on barges near the wreck site to ensure that each response vessel has immediate access to additional pollution mitigation equipment as needed. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
A shoreline team member surveys a shell rake near the Jekyll Island fishing pier during a routine shoreline assessment on Thursday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Shoreline team members survey the beach on the north side of Jekyll Island on Monday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Shoreline survey teams continue to recover small amounts of debris and weathered oil material from the shorelines of Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. All debris is sorted, catalogued and disposed of according to the response debris plan. 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. To learn more about the response debris program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – Debris Removal Operations
On-water response teams maintain a 24-hour watch around the Golden Ray and they deploy pre-staged equipment and personnel to mitigate any oil discharges, sheens and debris observed. Natural Resource Advisors continue to monitor areas around the wreck site and the Environmental Protection Barrier for any wildlife activity or impacts. To learn more about the response on-water oil recovery program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – On-Water Oil Recovery Operations
If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802. For current beach and fishing safety information, please visit the Georgia Coast Health District website at the Georgia Coast Health District website.
Safety personnel continue air monitoring in the community using stationary and mobile air monitoring equipment. Community air quality analysis and water sample analysis continues to confirm no exceedances of air and water quality standards. To learn more about the Air and Water quality monitoring program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – Air and Water Quality Monitoring
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.