Category Archives: Response Imagery

Unified Command for St. Simons Sound Incident Response finalizing plans for environmental protection barrier, wreck removal

The Unified Command (UC) for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response and assisting organizations are actively engaged in finalizing plans for the construction of an environmental protection barrier (EPB) to be built around the motor vessel Golden Ray.

The vessel’s owner and the UC are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Savannah District, to obtain the required permits to begin construction of the EPB. The UC will release details about EPB construction plans and the wreck removal once required permits are issued.

USACE issued a public notice Wednesday indicating that the construction plan could potentially impact the federal navigation channel. The notice is open for public comment until Feb. 4.

Contractors are working daily, weather permitting, on preparing the Golden Ray for removal. Most recently, crews removed the side ramp and have been working on the stern ramp.  Removing these ramps will improve safety conditions and expedite operations to cut the vessel into sections for removal.

“While crews are actively engaged in ramp removal from the wreck itself, we are working back on shore with environmental, engineering and other experts to finalize plans for the EPB that will mitigate threats to the marine ecosystem when the Golden Ray is eventually cut into large sections and removed by barge,” said Kevin Perry of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party. “We are doing everything we can to get this wreck removal right. This includes considering every last detail of the EPB including how its construction will impact marine life and what level of noise the citizens of St. Simons Island can expect while it is being built.”

The UC for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response is comprised of the Coast Guard as the federal on scene coordinator, the Georgia Department of Natural Resource (DNR) as the state on scene coordinator, and Gallagher Marine Services as the incident commander for the responsible party.

“While the UC is made up of representatives from three organizations, we must consider input from multiple experts and stakeholders when moving forward with EPB and removal plans,” said John Maddox, Georgia Dept. of Natural Resource state on scene coordinator. “This is a complicated project with lots of moving parts. The UC is pleased that this phase of the planning process is almost complete and appreciates the patience of local residents and visitors of St. Simons as we get closer to removing the Golden Ray.”

The UC remains available to answer questions and verify information. The joint information center (JIC) for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response is the response’s official source of information. The JIC can be reached by phone at 912 944 7122 or email at simonsresponse@gmail.com.

St. Simons Sound Incident Response contractors remove a ramp from the motor vessel Golden Ray, near Brunswick, Georgia, Jan. 26, 2020. Contractors continue to work daily, weather permitting, on preparing the Golden Ray for removal—removing these ramps will improve safety conditions and expedite operations to cut the vessel into sections for removal. (Photo by Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class James Himes)

Removal of rudder and propeller from the Golden Ray is complete.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command has successfully completed the removal of the rudder and propeller from the Golden Ray today. Crews worked over the past week to complete the operation which was hampered by adverse weather conditions at times.  The removal of approximately 130 tons of weight will help reduce stresses to the hull of the wreck.

Portions of the ship that were removed are being donated to the State of Georgia for use as artificial reefs in areas designated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Crews work to remove the propeller from the M/V Golden Ray, St. Simons Sound, Dec. 20, 2019.

Crews transfer the propeller from the M/V Golden Ray to the work barges for safe removal, St. Simons Sound, Dec. 20, 2019.

Crews remove the rudder from the M/V Golden Ray and transfer it to the work barges for safe removal, St. Simons Sound, Dec. 20, 2019.

Photo Release: Work Barges

Crews onboard the work barges Farrell [left] and Columbia [right], work to clean residual fuel oil from tanks inside the M/V Golden Ray, St. Simons Sound, Dec. 3, 2019. The work barges provide a platform for personnel and equipment to perform various tasks to prepare the wreck for removal.

Photo Release: Rappelling into the Golden Ray

Response crews repel into the hull of M/V Golden Ray and clear a path for oil spill equipment to safely remove oil from the steering gear room, St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Nov. 5, 2019. The complex pollution recovery and mitigation operations in a ship of this magnitude demands methodical planning and meticulous execution.

Response crews repel into the hull of M/V Golden Ray and clear a path for oil spill equipment to safely remove oil from the steering gear room, St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Nov. 5, 2019. The complex pollution recovery and mitigation operations in a ship of this magnitude demands methodical planning and meticulous execution.

Photo Release: Air Quality Monitoring

Unified Command response team members Jeff Walker, left, and Sam Atazadeh, air quality specialists, record data from readings taken on multi-gas-monitors, St. Simons Island, Georgia, Oct. 30, 2019. The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command conducted daily air quality monitoring in real-time to ensure the safety of the public in the communities surrounding the capsized M/V Golden Ray.

Photo Release: Rock Blanket

A knuckle boom excavator picks up 1-to-3-inch rock-aggregate from a container barge in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 29, 2019. The excavator guided by sonar and GPS, strategically places the rock next to the hull of the M/V Golden Ray to slow erosion.

Unified Command response crews begin operations to reduce further erosion of the seafloor around the M/V Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 29, 2019. Sonar and GPS technology guide a knuckle boom excavator as it places 1-to-3-inch rock-aggregate next to the hull of the vessel to slow erosion.

Unified Command response crews begin operations to reduce further erosion by placing a rock “blanket” adjacent to the hull of the M/V Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 29, 2019. Sonar and GPS technology guide a knuckle boom excavator as it places 1-to-3-inch rock-aggregate next to the hull.

Photo Release: Cargo Hold Lidar Imagery

A cargo assessment takes place on the fourth deck aboard the capsized M/V Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 4, 2019. The Unified Command used laser technology to analyze the inaccessible cargo-hold, which produced 3-D images of inside the grounded vessel.

A cargo assessment takes place on the ninth deck aboard the capsized M/V Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 4, 2019. The Unified Command used laser technology to analyze the inaccessible cargo-hold, which produced 3-D images of inside the grounded vessel.

A cargo assessment takes place on the ninth deck aboard the capsized M/V Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 8, 2019. The Unified Command used laser technology to analyze the inaccessible cargo-hold, which produced 3-D images of inside the grounded vessel.

Photo Release: St. Simons Sound Water Quality Monitoring

St. Simons Sound Incident water quality team member Laura Hassold Prévot, environmental scientist, retrieves a water sample from the St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2019. The Unified Command implemented a water sample collection program at 22 sites to monitor the quality of the waters around the capsized motor vessel Golden Ray.

St. Simons Sound Incident water quality team members Laura Hassold Prévot, environmental scientist, and Julian Tabron, staff geologist, collect a water sample from the upper MacKay River, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2019. The Unified Command implemented a water sample collection program at 22 sites to monitor the quality of the waters around the capsized motor vessel Golden Ray.

A St. Simons Sound Incident water quality team member analyzes the pH level of a water sample, upper MacKay River, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2019. The Unified Command implemented a water sample collection program at 22 sites to monitor the quality of the waters around the capsized motor vessel Golden Ray.

A St. Simons Sound Incident safety boat patrols the perimeter of the capsized motor vessel Golden Ray as it lays grounded on its side in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2019. A Unified Command, comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems, was established to oversee and direct cleanup and removal efforts, as well as to keep recreational boaters away from the vessel to maintain public safety.

St. Simons Sound Incident salvors work aboard the capsized motor vessel Golden Ray as it lays grounded on its side in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, Oct. 17, 2019. The Unified Command, comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems, was established to oversee and direct cleanup and removal efforts.