BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Responders removed Section Six from the Golden Ray wreck site on Saturday. Six of eight sections of the Golden Ray wreck have been removed. The two remaining sections will be separated by one final cut.
Tug crews towed Section Six of the Golden Ray wreck to a response facility south of Mayor’s Point Terminal on Saturday. Wreck removal personnel safely lifted and loaded the section onto a dry dock barge on Friday. Approximately 25 pollution response vessels quickly mitigated an oil discharge using oil skimmers, Current Busters and sorbent boom during the final lift of the section. In total, on-water pollution response teams recovered approximately 2,300 gallons of oil during controlled lifting operations beginning on July 31.
“We greatly appreciate the patience and support of the community as we complete another significant step in removing the Golden Ray wreck from St. Simons Sound,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “Our personnel continue to ensure our safety priorities are met throughout all operations from the wreck site to the shoreline.”
The VB-10000 entered a refitting period on Sunday to prepare for the final cutting operation to separate the two remaining sections of the wreck.
A weight-shedding team uses a Fuchs MHL390 material handler with a multi-tine attachment to remove vehicles as required from Section Six on Tuesday to reduce the overall weight of the section and ensure safe lifting operations. Approximately 200 vehicles and one loose deck were safely removed during the operation. St. Simons Sound Incident response video by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeremy Wilbanks.
A work barge outfitted with several fire monitors flushes sediment out of Section Six using seawater during weight-shedding operations on Thursday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Assisted by the Tug Caitlin, the Tugs Crosby Star and Kurt J Crosby tow a dry-dock barge towards the Golden Ray wreck site on Friday. The barge is equipped with custom fabricated cradles which are welded to the section after it is placed on the barge. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Multiple response vessels remain on-station to mitigate any oil discharges that potentially appear beyond the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) as tugs tow a dry-dock barge into the wreck site on Friday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeremy Wilbanks.
Response vessels recover an oil discharge using a Current Buster and fire monitors in the vicinity of the wreck site during lifting operations on Friday. The seawater from the fire monitors pushes the edge of the oil in a favorable direction to keep it pooled which makes the oil easier to recover; the technique is called “herding.” St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
A dry-dock barge slips underneath Section Six of the Golden Ray wreck on Friday and departs with the section on Saturday after wreck removal personnel secured it for transit. The barge is equipped with containment capabilities to capture any fluids that discharge from the section. St. Simons Sound Incident response video by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeremy Wilbanks.
Welders prepare to attach several custom fabricated cradles to the hull-side of Section Six on Friday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Multiple tugs move a dry-dock barge loaded with Section Six of the Golden Ray wreck to a response facility south of Mayor’s Point Terminal on Saturday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
The VB-10000 began a refitting period on Sunday to prepare for the final cutting operation on the remainder of the Golden Ray wreck. Two sections remain. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for any non-response vessel not transiting inside the shipping channel. 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.
Wildlife specialists with Tri-state Bird Rescue and Research, the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources release several rehabilitated Royal Tern chicks on Bird Island. The releases occurred during multiple visits last week and each tern was safely tagged to aid in identification during future wildlife surveys in the area. St. Simons Sound Incident response video.
A shoreline clean-up team installs a temporary fence lined with sorbent material to capture any floating residual oil during tidal cycles near the Wylie Street public beach access on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
A shoreline clean-up team removes oiled sand on a beach near Gould’s Inlet on Tuesday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. (TSBRR) in coordination with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR), successfully rehabilitated and released 10 healthy Royal Tern chicks which were banded by GA DNR and returned to the Royal Tern colony on Bird Island during multiple visits within the past week. TSBRR captured 20 oiled Royal Tern chicks on Bird Island on August 7 and the birds were immediately transported to the primary care center in South Carolina. Regretfully, the remaining chicks that did not make it to release either succumbed during transit to the primary care center, during care, or were euthanized due to medical issues discovered on admittance and had a very poor prognosis for recovery.
"Several factors including the age of the chicks, the amount of time they had been oiled prior to capture, and the delicate nature of the species contributed to the challenge of successfully rehabilitating and safely releasing these young birds back into the wild,” said Oil Programs Manager Michelle Knapp of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc.
Wildlife assessment teams continue to survey marsh areas and beaches throughout St. Simons Sound for any potential wildlife impacts. If you encounter any oiled wildlife, do not attempt to capture it and report any sightings of oiled wildlife by calling (800) 261-0980.
Approximately 80 personnel split into several shoreline clean-up teams are using various clean-up techniques to mitigate oiled shorelines along the southern edge of St. Simons Island from Gould’s Inlet to west of Wylie Street public beach access on St. Simons Island and on the northside of Jekyll Island. The teams use a variety of techniques from hand tools and bags to collect oiled sand to sphagnum moss and sorbent pads to treat oiled marsh grasses. Shoreline assessment teams continue to survey beaches and shorelines for any additional impacts. If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.
Beaches remain open to the public and the Department of Health urges beach-goers to remain vigilant. For current beach and fishing safety information, please visit the Georgia Coast Health District website at the Georgia Coast Health District website.
Survey teams continue to recover debris along shorelines and from marsh areas in the vicinity of the wreck site. 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.
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. To learn more about the response on-water oil recovery program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – On-Water Oil Recovery Operations
Safety personnel continue to measure air quality 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 Golden Ray wreck removal and response operations.