Golden Ray Being Secured Before Storm
The Unified Command set up for the capsized car carrier Golden Ray is closely monitoring the tropical storm, Humberto. While the vessel is hard aground and stable, precautions have been being taken to ensure the ship is secure during the storm, which is expected to strengthen to become a hurricane on Sunday night. Current salvage plans and oil recovery operations have now been suspended. Salvage teams had been sealing underwater fuel tank vents.
The 656-foot vessel capsized with a fire on board in St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia, on September 8. There were 24 on board, 23 crew and one pilot. All were rescued. However, the stricken vessel still poses a major hazard to navigation for the Port of Brunswick. She capsized at the entrance to St. Simons Sound while departing the port for Baltimore.
The Captain of the Port has updated the safety zone around the Golden Ray. No vessel may approach within 150 yards of the incident site. Additionally, vessels greater than 500 gross tons remain subject to a half-nautical mile safety zone around the site and require authorization from the Captain of the Port to transit.
Response crews are continually monitoring air quality around the vessel and surrounding areas, and no threats to human health have been detected. Additionally, there are teams are continuously conducting shoreline assessments. Soon after the capsize, minor sheening was reported along the north bank of the Brunswick River and Bird Island. Approximately 1,200 feet of boom was deployed near the vessel and 3,100 feet of boom along Bird Island.
Commercial traffic in the Port of Brunswick has resumed on a case by case basis.
The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems.
The commanding officer at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Savannah, Norm C. Witt, has warned that the Golden Ray salvage could take months. Speaking to local media, he said: “I would say that each step of the way, we're continuing to redefine those plans as we learn more about the condition of the ship and trying to make sure that our processes are as safe and effective as possible. This is definitely something that we want to get right the first time.”