Category Archives: Incident Updates

St. Simons Sound Incident Response contractors to begin construction of environmental protection barrier, Thursday

ST. SIMONS, Georgia — St. Simons Sound Incident Response contractors are scheduled to begin construction of an environmental protection barrier (EPB) Thursday around the grounded motor vessel Golden Ray.

The pile-driving operation is the first phase in the construction of the EPB.

Weeks Marine workers will begin the process of driving approximately 80 piles into the sea floor over an estimated one-month period. The pile-driving operations will be limited to daylight hours. The public should expect construction noise.

The EPB will include a large floating containment barrier to help contain surface pollutants, as well as large netting to contain subsurface debris.

The Unified Command for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response is comprised of the Coast Guard as the federal on scene coordinator, Georgia Department of Natural Resources as the state on scene coordinator, and Gallagher Marine Systems as the incident commander for the responsible party.

Further details and graphics describing plans and equipment are available at the St. Simons Sound Incident Response official website: https://ssiresponse.com/. 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 Unified Command announces EPB construction and wreck removal plan

The Unified Command (UC) for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response, in coordination with the owners of the motor vessel Golden Ray, have developed a plan and received permits for the construction of an environmental protection barrier (EPB) to be built around the grounded vessel before it is cut into sections and removed.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, issued permits for EPB construction. The EPB is designed to protect the environment from pollution and debris.

The UC will be available at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7, for media interviews about the construction of the EPB, at the Susan Shipman Environmental Learning Center at 1 Conservation Way in Brunswick.

EPB construction is scheduled to begin in approximately two weeks. Construction will require pile driving operations during daylight hours. The public should expect construction noise.

“There’s no way to remove the Golden Ray without making noise—there’s no way around it,” said Kevin Perry of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party. “The EPB construction noise will be limited to daylight hours. We appreciate everyone’s patience with the noise levels as we work to remove this wreck as quickly and safely as possible.”

The EPB will include large floating boom to help contain surface pollutants, as well as double layer netting to contain subsurface debris.

“We recognize that the floating boom of the EPB alone will probably not be enough to contain surface pollution when we cut into the hull,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Norm Witt, federal on scene coordinator for the response. “That’s why we’ll have crews and equipment, both inside the barrier and out, ready to respond.”

Contractors will remove the wreck using the VB-10,000 floating crane to cut through the hull with a large diamond-cutting chain. The plan is to make seven cuts and remove eight large sections. Each section of the Golden Ray, weighing approximately 2,700 to 4,100 tons, will be lifted by the VB-10,000 onto a barge, then transported to a certified off-site recycling facility for further dismantling and recycling.

“Each individual large-section cut will take approximately 24 hours, and once a cut begins, must continue until that cut is complete,” said John Maddox, Georgia Department of Natural Resource state on scene coordinator. “That means noise through the night during some 24-hour periods. We do not yet know when the cutting will begin, but we will make announcements for cutting operations once they are scheduled.”

Further details and graphics describing plans and equipment are available at the St. Simons Sound Incident Response official website: https://ssiresponse.com/ . 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.

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.

Unified Command Continues St. Simons Sound Incident Response: Update 19

Date: 10.1.19

Contact: Joint Information Center (912) 944-7122

Responders with the unified command reposition boom around the motor vessel Golden Ray Oct. 1, St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia. The barrier boom is maintained daily due to strong currents in the sound and skimming teams are conducting surface clean-up to recover oil product. (CLICK PHOTO ABOVE FOR FULL RESOLUTION IMAGE)

St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command continues its response to the motor vessel Golden Ray. Currently, salvage workers continue to lighter the vessel and have removed over 106,101 gallons of fuel as of Tuesday. Skimming vessels are continuing to recover oil from the water while survey teams continue to monitor shoreline impacts. 14,700 feet of containment boom has been deployed to protect sensitive areas.

“Thank you for your patience during this response, our boom operations are designed to protect the marine environment, protect marinas and other assets,” said Commander Witt. “We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of responders, the public and marine environment as well as maintaining commerce in the area.”

Impacts of pollutants are being investigated and monitored. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report any pollution.

Specialists continue to actively monitor air and water quality around the vessel, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website or call (844) 863-0325 for public health information and advisories.

The UC is working with local stakeholder groups to track and evaluate reported sightings of oil. Members of the public should not touch oil or attempt to rescue oiled birds or wildlife. They should instead report any sightings of oil to (800) 424-8802 and report any oiled wildlife to (800) 261-0980. 

A claims number has been established for those affected by the incident (888) 850-8486.