The salvage operations of the motor vessel Golden Ray are paused due to a combination of factors including COVID-19 mitigation protocols, as well as the hurricane season, the Unified Command overseeing the wreck removal announced, almost 11 months after the ship grounded in St. Simons Sound, Georgia.
St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, overseeing the wreck removal, announced the pause in removal operations during an online media conference, Friday.
Pausing operations allows us to reduce the immediate risk of COVID-19 to responders, minimize combined COVID-19 and Heavy Weather Risks to future operations, and allows us to implement robust, long-term COVID-19 mitigating measures when we resume,
…said Cmdr. Efren Lopez, Federal On-Scene Coordinator.
To date, 10 responders have tested positive and more than 50 responders, out of approximately 300 personnel, have been quarantined due to contact tracing, according to Incident Commander Tom Wiker of Gallagher Marine Systems.
Although COVID-19 and the weather conditions during this time of year are two separate issues, they should be considered jointly as they both relate to the overall project success. Separately these impacts are difficult to manage but together they create a uniquely challenging situation,
However, the wreck is stable and is not expected to impact the deep water channel or to commercial ship traffic during the pause, speakers confirmed.
Responders continue to monitor and maintain the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) and scouring protection as well as survey the vessel using on-site monitoring systems on a 24-hour basis. Response personnel and equipment will remain ready to respond with a variety of on-water resources should the need arise.
A safety zone around the EPB surrounding the motor vessel Golden Ray wreck site will remain in effect to protect the response crews and the public.
The VB 10,000 heavy-lift, twin-gantry crane (VB 10K) will begin cutting & lifting operations on or about October 1. These operations are anticipated to last for eight weeks.