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Responders continue preparations to resume cutting Section Seven

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Responders continue preparations to resume cutting operations on Section Seven of the Golden Ray wreck.


Operations to align the cutting chain in the cut groove for Section Seven continue at the Golden Ray wreck site. Divers and responders aboard the VB-10000 completed the process of feeding a new chain into the separation between Section Seven and Section Six on Friday. Response engineers are using shots of R5 anchor chain which is the highest standard for off-shore mooring chains. Once aligned, cutting operations to completely separate Section Seven will resume. Collected data from fixed monitors and hydrographic surveys confirms that the wreck remains stable.

“Each step in the process of safely separating a section of the Golden Ray requires expert planning and preparation,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “We remain focused on our priorities of worker and public safety while safeguarding the surrounding environment and the shipping channel.”

Responders removed approximately 100 vehicles from Section Seven and approximately 120 vehicles from Section Three during weight-shedding operations throughout the week. Weight-shedding is a multi-strategy approach which includes tactics such as vehicle and deck removal, drilling additional drainage holes and using water streams to mitigate increased weight in the sections due to large accumulations of sediment.

Sea-fastening teams completed operations to secure Section Two for ocean transit aboard the Barge Julie B and marine safety inspectors cleared the barge for departure following an inspection on Monday. The barge will depart the Port of Brunswick to transit to a recycling facility in Louisiana pending a favorable weather window.

A rope access technician inspects a fire hose connected to the deluge system installed on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck on Friday during preparations to resume cutting operations on Section Seven. For more information about the response fire fighting system please watch the corresponding video at St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

U.S. Coast Guard inspectors from Marine Safety Unit Savannah survey the Barge Julie B and Section Two of the Golden Ray wreck during an inspection on Monday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Responders recover debris inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) as weight-shedding operations on Section Three and VB-10000 rigging operations on Section Seven of the Golden Ray wreck continue 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 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.


Response vessels hold formation around the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) on Tuesday to mitigate a light oil sheen that entrained outside the barrier during preparations to resume cutting operations on Section Seven of the Golden Ray wreck. The on-water response team forms a vital dynamic environmental protection layer outside the EPB to ensure wreck removal operations continue safely while safeguarding the sound and the shoreline. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

An aerial image shows a protective booming arrangement around Bird Island in St. Simons Sound. Bird Island is one of 13 Geographic Response Strategy (GRS) sites around St. Simons Sound that meet criteria based on environmental sensitivity, risk of being impacted from waterborne spills and feasibility of successfully protecting the site with existing technology. Responders have maintained GRS sites since the start of the incident in September 2019. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A glob of oil is recovered outside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) during survey operations within the St. Simons Sound. Response personnel recovered all material upon discovery with no further recovery action necessary. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

A glob of oil is recovered during a routine survey of a shoreline segment on St. Simons Island, Ga. on Friday. The response uses the Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) system developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to organize, observe and mitigate any environmental impacts to shorelines. The St. Simons Sound Incident response routinely surveys hundreds of segments along shorelines and marsh areas in the vicinity of St. Simons Sound with each segment measuring approximately 500 meters. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Tavo Gonzalez of Gallagher Marine Systems recovers a piece of debris at the shoreline using a utility vehicle on March 24, 2021. Shoreline survey teams routinely monitor shorelines along Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Cumberland and Little Cumberland Islands, Sea Island and within St. Simons Sound on foot, by boat, and in the air looking for any debris and oil that may be present in the area. The response deploys personnel to recover specific targets when surveyors discover material. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Luis Estrada sorts and documents debris recovered during shoreline surveys at a response facility on Monday. The response developed a debris assessment and recovery plan adapted from Shoreline Clean up and Assessment Technique (SCAT) protocols to identify and process any shipwreck and non-shipwreck debris recovered during shoreline surveys prior to disposal. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Responders recovered and released a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle during debris trawler operations on March 24, 2021. Natural Resource Advisors aboard the trawler inspected the turtle and determined that it was uninjured and unoiled. A lightly-oiled laughing gull was retrieved from a Current Buster on March 25, 2021, and transferred to a rehabilitation facility in South Carolina. Natural Resource Advisors are environmental scientists and biologists that routinely survey the response area of responsibility (AOR) from the wrecksite and the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) to the shoreline as well as accompany each debris trawler to monitor for any marine animal or wildlife impacts.

Responders continue to observe and recover oil sheens and debris on the water around the wreck site. Survey teams continue to assess the shoreline to find and remove any debris or other environmental 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 (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 St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the motor vessel Golden Ray response operations.

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