People watch from Jekyll Island as emergency responders work to rescue crew members from a capsized cargo ship on September 9, 2019 in St Simons Island, Georgia. A 656-foot vehicle carrier, the M/V Golden Ray departed the Brunswick port and suffered a fire on board, capsizing in St. Simons Sound. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Photo: Sean Rayford
Photo: Sean Rayford

Salvage experts to haul overturned cargo ship away piece by piece

Golden Ray capsized in Georgia’s St. Simons Sound in September

Marine salvage experts seeking to remove an overturned cargo ship from St. Simons Sound on Georgia’s coast say they will haul it away in pieces because it cannot be safely righted and refloated intact.

Coast Guard authorities said Saturday that the hull of the 656-foot Golden Ray would be dismantled, along with the ship’s other components and cargo, and taken away in what it described as a “complex situation.”

The Golden Ray overturned Sept. 8 near the Port of Brunswick. Rescuers drilled into the hull’s steel plates and rescued four crewmen trapped in the bowels of the ship for more than a day in scorching heat and darkness.

The Coast Guard has said it would take “weeks, if not months” to remove the ship, which overturned while heading to sea carrying 24 crew members and 4,200 vehicles.

After the vessel rolled onto its left side, a fire broke out, but there were no casualties. The Brunswick port reopened to commercial ships on a case-by-case basis four days after the ship overturned.

Response teams’ efforts have been two-pronged: trying to contain spills in the water and working on a plan to remove the ship. Skimmers and absorbent materials have been used to soak up oil in the water, while booms have been placed around sensitive areas to protect them.

Earlier this month, significant amounts of pollutants continued to flow from the ship into surrounding waterways, putting environmental advocates and local boat captains on high alert.

Divers have worked to locate and patch a tank on the vessel that was leaking pollutants. As of early October, the oil had traveled from the boat to within 2.5 miles of the shore.

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