Delays and demands: Removal of Golden Ray hits fever pitch in Brunswick

Two Georgia lawmakers say they're growing increasingly concerned by the setbacks that have plagued the Golden Ray salvage operation. News4Jax Reporter Brittany Muller joins us live.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Two Georgia lawmakers said they’re growing increasingly concerned by the persistent setbacks that have plagued the Golden Ray salvage operation. The 656-foot cargo ship has been sitting on its side in the St. Simons Sound for more than a year.

In a letter, Rep. Earl Buddy Carter and Sen. David Purdue said each day the project is delayed is one more day the public and local communities must worry about something going wrong. That’s why they now want weekly updates from the Unified Command.

Engineers originally hoped to have the Golden Ray out of the St. Simons Sound before peak hurricane season, that didn’t happen because of storms and COVID-19. Salvage operations were delayed again earlier this month because of engineering challenges.

READ: Letter from Congressmen to Golden Ray Unified Command

Carter and Purdue are now demanding weekly updates from the Unified Command and detailed explanations for any delays. The lawmakers praised the U.S. Coast Guard for responding in a heroic fashion, rescuing crew members, and preventing an environmental disaster, in the letter, but they say “our offices were assured that this was necessary to expedite the removal of the shipwreck before the peak of hurricane season. Given the date of this letter, it is clear that this objective was not met.”

It added while it’s a complex operation they are discouraged by the delays.

The letter also mentions the most recent delay. Engineers were forced to troubleshoot a problem with the anchoring system they designed to steady a towering, floating crane, called the VersaBar 10,000, that will eventually be used to slice the ship into giant chunks.

MORE: Follow all our coverage of the Golden Ray saga

The latest update from Unified Command says crews are now installing pilings to secure the crane.

The lawmakers say if these delays continue, they must consider additional Congressional action to ensure accountability.

They wrote: “It is critically important to our community that this project is done safely and efficiently.”

There is still no word on when the massive crane will be leaving the Port of Fernandina to head to the sound.

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Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.