UPDATE: Operations Resume Following Hurricane Isaias

ST. SIMONS, Ga — St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command (UC) resumed operations after the passage of Hurricane Isaias. The response has since placed resources back into position to continue work.

Due to the potential impact of the Hurricane to the St. Simons Sound area, the UC implemented their Heavy Weather Plan which required the repositioning and securing of all response assets in advance of the storm’s passing. With cutting and lifting operations currently set for early October, the UC reminds the public that operations are very much underway and continuing. Responders continue a multitude of tasks in preparation for a safe and successful removal of the motor vessel Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound.

“Our advanced planning for heavy weather paid dividends. We were prepared for Hurricane Isaias and are proud of the quick execution of our Heavy Weather Plan by our response personnel,” said Cmdr. Efren Lopez, Federal On-Scene Coordinator “There are many plans to execute and a lot of activity still going on as we prepare for the eventual cutting and lifting of the vessel itself.”

A list of on-going operations are as follows:

· Continuously monitor the structural integrity of the Golden Ray

· Maintenance of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB)

· Monitoring and maintenance of scour protection around the wreck site

· Monitoring the wreck for any pollution release

· Sustaining an existing position of readiness in the event of a release with scheduled on-water recovery drills

· Maintaining firefighting capability onboard the ship through crew training and drills

· Establish sequestered on-water lodging via a vessel at the wreck site to further reduce coronavirus exposure to responders.

· Prepare local sites in accordance with a large-scale removal plan which includes installing vessel berthing/mooring and site preparation.


The wreck is stable and is not expected to impact the deep water channel or to commercial ship traffic. A safety zone around the EPB surrounding the motor vessel Golden Ray wreck site remains in effect to protect the response crews and the public.

The VB 10,000 heavy-lift, twin-gantry crane (VB 10K), modified specifically for the cutting lifting operation, will remain in the region. VB 10K will eventually be mobilized to St. Simon’s Sound to begin cutting & lifting operations. These operations are anticipated to last for eight weeks from the onset barring any unforeseen obstacles.

Responders continue to follow CDC guidelines strictly to limit coronavirus exposure and have adapted daily operations accordingly. Measures in place include daily health checks, required wearing of face coverings, safe-distancing and teleworking (whenever possible), self-quarantines for all incoming members, continuous disinfection of facilities and work platforms, and contact tracing protocols when necessary. On-site medical advisors constantly revise health safety guidance with respect to new information about the spread of the disease.


During the pause of cutting and lifting operations, responders practice boom deployment in St. Simons Sound early August 2020. Daily operations such as planning and training on pollution response strategies continue as personnel prepare for cutting and lifting of the motor vessel Golden Ray in early October 2020. St. Simons Sound Incident Response video.

Additional B-roll can be downloaded here.

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

For more detailed information and updates, visit ssiresponse.com.