ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - A major milestone has been reached in the removal of a capsized ship in the Saint Simons Sound.
The Unified Command reports all the oil inside the Golden Ray’s 26 fuel tanks has been removed.
The cargo ship has been on its side in the St. Simons Sound for just over three months now. Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and several other groups have been “lightering” fuel. They have removed more than 320,000 gallons of oil and water from the ship.
On Thursday, the fuel tanks were washed with steam to remove any remaining fuel left behind.
Now, the main focus is getting the ship out of the water. Crews are removing it piece by piece. They have begun removing the ship’s massive propeller and rudder. The Unified Command says that it will help stabilize the ship so they can prepare for the full removal.
“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 Jeremiah Winston, Unified Command Salvage Branch Director.
Another challenge facing the area is all the fuel that leaked out of the ship over the last three months. The Altamaha Riverkeeper has been tracking every spill on their map, which shows the fuel impacts have reached far inland.
For the very latest on the Golden Ray salvage efforts from the Unified Command, click here.
Previous stories on the Golden Ray:
- Crews report new discharge from Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound
- Entire crew rescued from capsized cargo ship off Ga. coast
- Focus shifts to salvage, pollution mitigation of capsized ship off Ga. coast
- Coast Guard: “Discharge” leaking from overturned ship in St. Simons Sound
- Crews say it could take months to remove capsized ship from St. Simons Sound
- Flipped cargo ship in St. Simons Sound having impact on local economy