Crews complete cutting operations to separate stern from Golden Ray

Removal of bow, stern of cargo ship creates more concerns for Altamaha Riverkeeper

Now that the next section of the Golden Ray is ready to be put on a barge and taken away, the removal of the bow and stern of the cargo ship is creating more concerns for the Altamaha Riverkeeper.

The next section of the Golden Ray is ready to be put on a barge and taken away.

Crews completed cutting operations to separate the stern from the Golden Ray on Saturday evening, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response said Sunday.

Once lifting preparations are complete, a barge will move into position to receive the section of the cargo ship that became stranded off the Georgia coast.

“The barge will then transit to Mayor’s Point Terminal for further sea-fastening,” St. Simons Sound Incident Response said.

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The next piece of the Golden Ray is lifted.

Salvagers are cutting the Golden Ray into eight pieces. Crews successfully cut the bow section of the Golden Ray at the end of November and then placed it onto barge Julie B. The bow left St. Simons Sound late last month for a recycling facility in Louisiana.

A major concern is the environmental impact. Crews have been monitoring from land, air and water. An environmental protection barrier, which is designed to catch floating debris, was placed around the ship, and the 150-yard safety zone around the environmental protection barrier has been increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels.

“This cut is definitely going to increase the debris,” Sue Inman, with the Altamaha Riverkeeper, said of the latest cut of the Golden Ray.

For the Altamaha Riverkeeper, the removal of the bow and stern creates more concerns.

“Now you have both ends of your boat opened up, so you have water constantly flowing in and out and with our strong currents,” Inman said. “It’s going to push more contaminants out.”

The 656-foot South Korean ship overturned in the sound near the Port of Brunswick in September 2019 while carrying 4,200 vehicles. With the latest cut, News4Jax has learned, there was a floor that slid out, which allowed cars to fall into the water.

“Unfortunately, the worst is coming yet,” Inman said.

Inman’s biggest concern is bunker oil, which hasn’t been released yet. It will most likely be released with the next four cuts.

“There’s 44 to 60,000 gallons of the bunker oil still on board,” Inman said.

If you spot debris or oil, you’re asked to call and report it:

  • To report oiled wildlife: 800-261-0980
  • To report pollution: 800-424-8802
  • To report debris: 912-944-5620

An expert said during a hearing in September 2020 that a U.S. Coast Guard analysis found the ship overturned because of unstable loading.

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