Crews slice Golden Ray, move into next steps of removal process

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Gal. – Crews finished cutting the first of eight sections of the 656-foot Golden Ray on Saturday. The ship overturned last year in September. Cutting operations began three weeks ago.

“They must have hit something, because what it sounded like was bowling ball going down a metal staircase,” a St. Simons Sound resident said. “It hasn’t been super noisy. As long as the doors and stuff in the house is closed, it hasn’t been bad. But last night we heard an increase in the noise level and we looked out and we could tell they were separating the section.”

fter more than three weeks of cutting, the first chunk of the capsized Golden Ray has been lifted and set on a barge to be recycled. News4JAX reporter Zac Lashway is speaks with a Saint Simons resident about what the process is like for those living on the water.

Twenty-two days after the cutting began, crews lifted the first section into the air and onto a barge. There have been several delays in cutting operations from Tropical Storm Eta and a break in the cutting chain.

“It’s been really interesting, we have seen a few things, sort of fall out of the lifted section. With the binoculars we can see cars in the lifted section, on all the floors,” the resident said. “The cars are jumbled, some of them are upside down, others you’re looking at the roofs, we can see the red, white and black cars. They are definitely in all sorts of orientations and not in great condition.”

Massive chain rips through the hull of the wrecked auto carrier ship. The next step will be to lift the section onto a barge which will later be recycled in Louisiana. (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

The grassroots organization, Altamaha Riverkeeper, also sent News4Jax video that shows equipment and other items falling from the wreck.

The riverkeepers say while patrolling the water and coastline of the sound they have found several pieces of debris from the ship and cars, some of which is oiled.

Authorities are asking anyone who sees debris from the Golden Ray to report it to the debris reporting hotline, at 912-944-5620.

Authorities are also reminding people not to distract responders, while they focus on the salvaging operation. This includes flying drones, small aircraft and boats close to the barrier.

Officials with Altamaha Riverkeeper say some of the sections of the ship will be brought to Louisiana.

Preparations for the second cut are underway.

About the Authors:

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