Golden Ray's Propeller Added to Artificial Reef

Salvors place the Golden Ray's stern tube section and propeller on the seabed (Georgia DNR)

Published Jan 8, 2020 2:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The stern tube, propeller and rudder of the grounded ro/ro Golden Ray have been deposited at an artificial reef site about 20 miles east-southeast of St. Simons Island, Georgia. The components join a collection of M-60 battle tanks, rubble, reef balls and military landing craft at Georgia's Reef SFC location. 

“With the addition of pieces of the Golden Ray to Reef SFC, anglers will have a better chance to target off-shore fish, and divers will have a chance to see a part of history,” said Paul Medders, who runs the artificial reef program for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “It’s exciting to see part of the Golden Ray become an artificial reef off our coast.”

The 100-ton bronze propeller and 50-ton rudder and stern tube were donated to the state of Georgia by Glovis, the owner of the Golden Ray. All material was inspected for cleanliness before being placed on the seabed. The rudder was laid down flat on its side and the propeller was deployed upright, resting on its shaft and projecting up to 30 feet above the seafloor. 

Georgia’s offshore artificial reef program consists of 20 offshore reefs, eight decommissioned military training system towers and three beach reefs. According to the Georgia DNR, Georgia’s natural reefs are based on rock outcroppings, not coral, so manmade reefs are not particularly different from natural habitat. Artificial reefs provide habitat for recreationally, commercially and ecologically important finfish and other animals. They support fisheries management efforts and increase the number of good locations to fish and SCUBA dive.

The Golden Ray went aground and capsized on September 8, 2019 while outbound in St. Simons Sound, Georgia. After a concerted effort to extract four trapped mariners from the vessel's engine room, all crewmembers were rescued safely.

The salvage effort for Golden Ray is particularly challenging as the wreck sits on its side on shifting sands and cannot be righted. In the initial response, salvors with DonJon-Smit stabilized the site with a blanket of rock on the bottom surrounding the ship, and a separate team from T&T Salvage has been contracted to demolish the vessel in place. 

“We’d like to thank the initial response contractor, DonJon-SMIT, for their hard work and commitment throughout this project,” said Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party in a statement issued Tuesday. “This is one of the most complicated marine casualty responses in U.S. history. DonJon-SMIT’s commitment to safety, along with hundreds of other responders, resulted in no injuries despite all the emergent hazards they faced.”