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Golden Ray demolition on hold for at least two months

Jul 24, 2020 04:36 PM

Plans are suspended due to COVID-19 precautions and hurricane concerns

The vehicle carrier Golden Ray lies on its side in Georgia's St. Simons Sound on Sept. 9 after capsizing early the previous day.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

The vehicle carrier Golden Ray lies on its side in Georgia's St. Simons Sound on Sept. 9 after capsizing early the previous day.

(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — The removal of the vehicle carrier Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound is now on hold, suspended due to COVID-19 precautions and concerns of the area’s impending peak hurricane season, The Brunswick News reported.

Unified Command decided this week to “pause” for at least two months the final phase of the process to get the 656-foot ship out of the sound. With almost all of the complex pieces of the demolition project in place, Unified Command conceded this week that an internal COVID-19 outbreak and inclement weather concerns warranted the work stoppage. Unified Command said it hopes to resume at the start of October.

“We haven’t set a firm date but we’re using Oct. 1 as a start date for cutting and lifting operations,” said Tom Wiker of Gallagher Marine Systems, one of Unified Command’s three entities.

The ship has sat overturned on its starboard side for more than 10 months, having capsized between the resort islands of St. Simons and Jekyll in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 8 while heading out to sea with its cargo of several thousand vehicles.

Unified Command’s plan remains is to cut Golden Ray into eight parts, each of which will be hauled from the sound via barge. The 5,000-foot-perimeter environmental protection barrier is in place, encircling the shipwreck to contain large debris and any of the 4,200 vehicles in the ship’s cargo hold that may shake loose when cutting begins.

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