Golden Ray removal crew sidelined by COVID-19 cleared to return to work

9 members directly involved with capsized ship's removal cleared medical screenings

Closer look: Unified Command prepares to begin cutting Golden Ray cargo ship
Closer look: Unified Command prepares to begin cutting Golden Ray cargo ship

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Fla. – The nine people directly involved with the removal operations of the cargo ship Golden Ray who tested positive for COVID-19 have been cleared to return to work, according to Unified Response officials.

They have cleared medical screenings and can now return to work removing the cargo ship, which is still lying on its side in the St. Simons Sound.

The heavy lifting crane that will lift each section of the 656-foot capsized vessel as it is cut apart is still at the Port of Fernandina where crews are performing work. Operations continue to prepare the Golden Ray for the arrival of the VersaBar-10,000.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes with the Unified Command told News4Jax the goal is to have the crane in the St. Simons Sound by the end of the month. Once it leaves Nassau County, weather permitting, it will take about a day to arrive in Glynn County.

The crane arrived in Fernandina Beach from Texas in early July for final modifications.

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.

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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