Lightering of Fuel from Golden Ray Complete
Salvors have removed all the fuel from the tanks that are accessible on the capsized car carrier Golden Ray.
Salvage workers and divers gained access to 26 fuel tanks inside the Golden Ray, some of which were submerged and could only be reached by rappelling and conducting dive operations inside the wreck. Fuel was pumped from the tanks into a barge for proper disposal. The interior of the tanks were then washed with steam to remove residual fuel, which was collected and transferred into containers.
More than 320,000 gallons of oil and water mixture were removed. The St. Simons Sound Unified Command continues a forensic investigation to determine an accurate measure of the fuel onboard at the time of the incident and the amount discharged into the environment.
To improve the stability of the wreck, the salvage team have begun the removal of the vessel’s propeller, propeller shaft and rudder, which weighs a total of approximately 130 tons. Due to the vessel’s orientation on its side, these components are creating a load which the vessel was not designed to support.
“Imagine holding a milk jug with an outstretched arm compared to the same weight hanging at your side. Removing these components will help reduce the stresses on the hull,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremiah Winston, Unified Command Salvage Branch director. “This operation will help sustain the integrity of the wreck while we prepare for its full removal.”
The crane barges Farrell and Columbia, operated by DONJON Marine and already on location, will perform the lifting for the removal project which could take up to five days.
Details plans for the remainder of the salvage are yet to be released, but the Unified Command is seeking proposals for the construction of a barrier to protect the environment while the wreck is disassembled. The whole project could take around a year.
The 20,000 dwt Golden Ray partially capsized on September 8 while heading outbound from the Port of Brunswick with 4,200 vehicles on board. The pilot aboard the Golden Ray, Capt. Jonathan Tennant, deliberately grounded the vessel in response to a reported fire on board. All crewmembers were rescued safely, though it took about 30 hours to free four crewmembers who were trapped in the vessel's engine room. The investigation into the cause of the casualty continues.