ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – One year ago, the Golden Ray cargo ship loaded with 4,200 used cars ran aground and overturned in the St. Simons Sound. A fire ignited and the race began to rescue the crew members who were aboard when the ship flipped.
The capsize made international headlines and the world waited to hear if all 24 South Korean crew members could be found and rescued.
By the next afternoon, the final crew members were pulled through a hole cut in the hull of the ship. Four of the crew members spent 35 hours in the dark and in extremely hot temperatures.
There were no serious injuries or deaths. The United States Coast Guard called it a miracle rescue.
However, the 656-foot vessel is still laying on its site along the ledge of the shipping channel to the Port of Brunswick and the majority of the work to remove it is still ahead.
The mere sight of the wreckage still makes some onlookers nervous.
“What’s gonna happen when a big hurricane comes? It’s gonna make a mess everywhere,” Fisherman Tony Kirkland said.
Crews will start cutting and lifting operations next month after being put on hold because of COVID-19, then hurricane season.
A heavy lifting crane, called the VersaBar 10,000, will be used to lift the cargo ship, piece by piece until its ultimate removal.
In the meantime, operations are still underway to prepare the ship for this massive effort.
Once the cutting begins on Oct. 1, it will take eight weeks to finish, if all goes according to plan.