BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A Jacksonville maritime attorney says there are three options that salvage teams will consider when it comes to removing the Golden Ray cargo ship, which overturned in the St. Simons Sound.
According to maritime expert Rod Sullivan, salvage crews have three options. They can take the entire ship apart piece by piece and remove more than 4,000 cars from the vessel with a barge, they can attempt to roll the vessel over using several cranes, or they can use a process called parbuckling to right the ship.
Sullivan believes the parbuckling method, which was successful in righting the Costa Concordia in Italy, will work.
"Basically, parbuckling is putting a heavy weight on one side of the ship in order to cause it to roll over and then putting cables on the other side to keep it from rolling over too far," Sullivan said.
During the process, the ship would be slowly lifted from its resting position before it's righted. It's a process that can take six to eight hours.
Sullivan said one of the challenges is the position of the Golden Ray.
"The more difficult problem in this case is the keel of (the) ship is facing more towards shallow water and the decks are facing towards the deep water," Sullivan said. "Imagine trying to roll up the hill, if you will, if you were laying on your side, and it's more difficult to roll up the hill than down the hill."
Sullivan said an added complication is building a cradle underwater that won't shift in the sand. He said the reward, however, is worth the risk, and he believes the parbuckling method is the best option.
"This is a relatively new ship. There's no sense cutting up all iron, smelting it down and making a new ship. This is really the most environmentally friendly way, in my opinion," Sullivan said.
He said the biggest environmental concern is fluid from the engine room, but the diesel tanks appear to be intact and there's no leak from the cargo space. Coast Guard officials confirm divers are surveying the sand under the ship.