Working is resuming at the wreck site of the ro/ro Golden Ray according to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command. Activity had recently been suspended due to the potential impact of Hurricane Isaias and the command had announced that the final cutting and lifting would be postponed until the fall after the peak of the hurricane season.
Due to the potential impact of the Hurricane to the St. Simons Sound area, teams working on-site at the Golden Ray implemented their Heavy Weather Plan, which required the repositioning and securing of all the equipment and personnel in advance of the storm.
“Our advanced planning for heavy weather paid dividends. We were prepared for Hurricane Isaias and are proud of the quick execution of our Heavy Weather Plan by our response personnel,” said Cmdr. Efren Lopez, Federal On-Scene Coordinator “There are many plans to execute and a lot of activity still going on as we prepare for the eventual cutting and lifting of the vessel itself.”
In addition to the potential for weather to effect the site, the command was responding to the impact of COVID-19 on operations. In late July, they reported that 10 responders had tested positive and more than 50 responders, out of approximately 300 personnel, had been quarantined due to contact tracing. Responders are continuing to follow CDC guidelines to limit potential coronavirus exposure and have adapted daily operations. Measures in place include daily health checks, required wearing of face coverings, safe-distancing and teleworking whenever possible, as well as self-quarantines for all incoming staff, continuous disinfection of facilities and work platforms, and contact tracing protocols when necessary.
While the cutting and lifting operations have been rescheduled for early October, a range of activities is continuing to maintain the site and prepare for the removal of the Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound. The teams will continue to monitor the structural integrity of the Golden Ray while also maintaining the Environmental Protection Barrier and continuing to look for any indications of pollution release from the wreck. The crews will also be continuing training and drills to maintain the firefighting capabilities on site.
During this period, the crew will also be preparing local sites following the large-scale removal plan. They will be installing vessel berthing/mooring and site preparation. In August, they will also practice boom deployment in St. Simons Sound.
The VB 10,000 heavy-lift, twin-gantry crane, which was being modified for the cutting lifting operation, will remain in the region during this period. The plan calls for it to be moved to the site so that cutting and lifting can resume in October. The final phase of the wreck removal is anticipated to last for eight weeks in the fall.
The wreck is stable and is not expected to impact the deep water channel or commercial ship traffic during this period.
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