ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Crews are making strides in their mission to remove the Golden Ray from St. Simons Island Sound. As News4Jax has reported, the 656-foot-long cargo ship overturned in the Sound in early September. It has remained on its side for the last several months.
Unified Command said it is expecting the monster-sized crane that’ll be used to cut up the overturned cargo ship to be in the Sound by the end of June.
Before the vessel can be cut up section by section, Unified Command said, many tasks need to be completed first. Construction continues for the environmental protection barrier. Just this past Friday, crews started installing the netting that will catch the debris.
Nearly a year after the accident, the wreckage itself looks different. For some around St. Simons Island, the sentiment of wanting it out of the Sound is the same.
Ken McLaurin has lived in St. Simons Island for the last 20 years and regularly sees the Golden Ray wreckage during his bike trips near the Sound.
"I'd like to see it gone before hurricane season," McLaurin said. "It would not be good to get a major hurricane with that in our Sound."
McLaurin isn't alone.
Multiple cranes are in use at the wreck site. Unified Command said those cranes are working to weld 16 lifting lugs to the top of the ship. They’re currently working on the 12th.
A video animation released by the command shows what happens next. The lifting lugs will attach to the massive VB-10,000 crane. It will then be used to cut up the Golden Ray, section by section.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said each large section cut will take roughly 24 hours. To give you a sense of how large the crane is, Chris Graff with the Command told News4Jax it reaches higher than the clearance for the Sidney Lanier Bridge. Graff also said with so much work being completed, he’s grateful the operation has had a positive safety record.
“We’ve had only a couple small, minor injuries,” Graff said. “I think the best thing is the safety has been the highest priority not only for the workers, but the public.”
Georgia DNR said once the crews start a cut, they have to keep going until they finish that cut. This means things will get noisy during some overnight hours. The goal is to start cutting soon after the VB-10,000 arrives.