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Responders continue maintenance and custom fabrication to prepare for next cut

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Responders continue maintenance and assessment operations at the wreck site after removing Section One of the Golden Ray wreck. Response engineers continue preparations for the next cut.

Removal Update

Responders modify a VB-10000 lifting block after unreeving on a work barge. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A technician works on a part of a VB-10000 lifting block. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Response engineers continue to implement a number of modifications to the cutting apparatus based on data collected during the first cut. These improvements require custom fabrication on-site and is estimated to continue for no less than two weeks. The engineers are confident that once implemented, cutting durations for the subsequent six cuts will significantly reduce and offset the time spent to implement.

Health and Safety Update

The two responders received positive test results for COVID-19 last week following which the response medical unit began contact tracing in accordance with the response medical safety plan. Several personnel are in quarantine due to close contact. The affected individuals are not part of the critical removal team who are sequestered separately at the Epworth by the Sea facility. Responders continue maintenance and assessment operations at the wreck site as well as pollution monitoring and mitigation operations on the water and along the shoreline.

“Safety of the public and our personnel is our highest priority. Our medical team is working swiftly and diligently to assess the situation while monitoring the health of our people that are in isolation and updating the Unified Command accordingly,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “We have made significant strides in mitigating COVID-19 exposure at the response, from sequestering our most critical personnel in a separate lodging facility to consistently updating and modifying our medical protocols with the latest safety guidance. This is the first instance of positive test results among hundreds of responders since late June and we are taking every measure to ensure there is no impact on the overall response.”

While at the response, personnel continue to diligently follow strict COVID-19 protocols in line with CDC guidelines and consistent with medical standards established by the Unified Command (UC) which include mandatory face coverings, safe distancing when possible, daily temperature checks for all members and continuous disinfection of facilities and platforms. All incoming personnel are mandated to sequester and receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to working. Response sequestration, quarantine and isolation protocols were developed in consultation with a local department of health epidemiologist.

Environmental Update

Section One of the wreck of the Golden Ray on the barge JULIE B behind a hydraulic “grab” at response site on the East River in Brunswick, Ga. The grab will be used to remove large debris from inside the EPB when necessary. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Responders are conducting hydrographic surveys of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) to inform debris removal operations. No marine mammal impacts have been observed in the EPB subsurface netting.

Responders continue to recover small pieces of debris, some oiled, within the proximity of the wreck and at the shoreline. If the public encounters what they believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not disturb the debris and 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.

The 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 EPB, 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 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. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) around the wreck site is prohibited. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.

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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