Media Availability: Unified Command for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response available Friday for EPB construction interviews

WHO: St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command

Cmdr. Norm Witt, Coast Guard federal on scene coordinator 

Doug Haymans, Georgia Department of Natural Resource state on scene coordinator

Kevin Perry, incident commander for the responsible party

WHAT: Media interviews regarding the construction of an environmental protection barrier (EPB) to be built around the motor vessel Golden Ray 

WHERE: Susan Shipman Environmental Learning Center, 1 Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520

WHY: To answer questions about the construction of the EPB

WHEN: 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 7, 2020

The St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command will be available Friday at 10 a.m. in Brunswick for media interviews about the construction of the environmental protection barrier.

The media is invited to the Susan Shipman Environmental Learning Center at 1 Conservation Way.

Media members should RSVP by emailing the St. Simons Response Joint Information Center at simonsresponse@gmail.com.

For additional information about the construction of the EPB, please click here.

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)

St. Simons Sound Incident Response, Preparation for Wreck Removal Update

The Unified Command (UC) continues to develop and refine a plan for the removal of the wreck from St. Simons Sound.

 

The UC is coordinating with experts to determine the most prudent barrier to place around the vessel so full-scale demolition may begin.

 

Specific details about the removal and an estimated timeline will be released as plans become finalized.

 

T&T Salvage LLC (T&T) will conduct wreck removal operations.

 

T&T is headquartered in Texas with offices around the globe and has extensive experience in wreck removal.

 

“We’d like to thank the initial response contractor, DonJon-SMIT, for their hard work and commitment throughout this project,” said Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party. “This is one of the most complicated marine casualty responses in U.S. history. DonJon-SMIT’s commitment to safety, along with hundreds of other responders, resulted in no injuries despite all the emergent hazards they faced.”

 

“This is a big step forward in this response, but there is still a significant amount of work to be done,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Matt Baer, federal on scene coordinator for the incident. “While we cannot operate without risk, the UC remains focused on mitigating the overall risk to the environment while ensuring the safe removal of the ship. The next phase will include construction of an environmental protection barrier. We have not made a decision on exactly what type of barrier will be constructed given the complex nature of the response, but we are close.”

 

The UC includes the federal on scene coordinator, the U.S. Coast Guard, the state on scene coordinator, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the responsible party, represented by Gallagher Marine Systems.

 

CONTACT: Joint Information Center (912) 944-7122

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.

Lightering of fuel from the Golden Ray has been completed

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command has successfully completed the oil pumping of all accessible tanks from the M/V 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 Unified Command continues the forensic investigation to determine an accurate volume of fuel onboard at the time of the incident and the amount discharged into the environment. 

“I’d like to thank the over 500 women and men who assisted in every aspect of this successful operation,” said Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “We’ve relied on the Brunswick community and experts around the world to reach this point and are grateful to all those who contributed” 

“This milestone helps ensure the health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people who rely on the St. Simons Sound. The removal of fuel from the vessel has significantly reduced the remaining threat to the environment” said Jed Hewitt from Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division.

“The completion of the fuel removal allows the Unified Command to move on to our ultimate goal of safely removing the wreck of the Golden Ray. Removal of the vessel will be a highly complex and challenging operation,” said Commander Matt Baer, U.S. Coast Guard. “Unified Command will take every possible measure to ensure the safety of those involved in the operation, the public and the environment.” 

To improve the stability of the wreck, Unified Command has 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.”

Plans for the construction of an environmental protection barrier and the full removal of the wreck continue to be evaluated and will be made public once a selection is made.

Contact: Joint Information Center (912) 944-7122

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: Vessel Interior Inspection

A marine chemist and a salvage operator assess oiling deep inside the Golden Ray wreck, Nov. 22, 2019. Removing oil from confined spaces safely requires a team of highly experienced maritime experts that guide operations in order to protect the marine environment and response crews around the M/V Golden Ray.