COVID-19 among crew delays work to remove Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound

Workers with the St. Simons Sound Incident Response install a 150-foot wide section of netting on the environmental protection barrier (EPB) surrounding the motor vessel Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, May 29, 2020. Offshore oil boom will also be secured to the floating HDPE pipe barriers that make up part of the EPB in order to retain any potential surface discharge during the removal of the vessel. The soft, high-strength-polyester netting, which extends from the seafloor to above the surface of the water, will catch larger solid debris while allowing marine life to swim safely through. (Photo by Jaime Sanchez-Perez) (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard confirms that nine people directly involved with the removal operations of the cargo ship Golden Ray laying on its side in the St. Simons Sound have tested positive for COVID-19.

A heavy lifting crane that will lift each section of the 656-foot capsized vessel as it is cut apart arrived in Fernandina Beach from Texas in early July for final modifications. The VB-10,000 was expected to make its way to Glynn County by the end of this week, but now it’s scheduled to leave Nassau County and arrive in the sound next week.

Chief Petty Officer John Miller with the U.S. Coast Guard told News4Jax last week that this is an operational milestone that marks the beginning of the final phases of the response to the Golden Ray incident. Miller confirmed to the newspaper that Officials are testing crew members who were in contact with the nine who tested positive and they are now in quarantine.

The Golden Ray is referred to as a “RoRo” a roll-on, roll-off shop so cars can be driven on and off. Unified Command said 4,200 cars remain on board the ship that has been lying on its side for more than 10 months.

With nine members tested positive, this will delay in the removal operations by a couple of weeks, the Brunswick News reported.

Since the Unified Command released its plans on the operations, it has said it is anticipated that there could be delays because of the pandemic or weather and has prepared for it. The goal was to remove the ship ahead of September -- the peak of hurricane season.

The USCG said it will release its investigation report on what caused the incident one year after the ship overturned which would be September 8, 2020.

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