The next step for the Golden Ray
- September 23, 2019
We recently celebrated the rescue of 24 crew members aboard the Golden Ray container ship that capsized just outside the Brunswick Port. The Coast Guards heroic efforts returned the crew to safety including a man that had been trapped behind glass for 40 hours! The last four crew members had been in pitch dark broiling conditions. There are not enough words to express the gratitude we all must have for the efforts made by the Coast Guard. John Reed, the commander of the Coast Guard Sector Charleston referred to it as the best day of his career. “A Pure Miracle” is how Senior Chef Petty Officer Justin Irwin described the rescue operation. While the rescue is cause for celebration now it is time to deal with the issues a capsized ship presents.
The Golden Ray is a 650 feet Long, 71,000-ton cargo ship with 300,000 gallons of oil and 4,200 cars on board. The hope is to remove the ship in one piece with as little damage to the environment as possible. The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the efforts and have several agencies working along side of them. Gallagher Marine Systems has been hired by the owners of the Golden Ray. The first order of business is containing oil leaks. According to Commander Norm Will of the Marine Safety Unit in Savannah they have identified and sealed off three submerged fuel vents. They are contemplating removing oil from some of the fuel tanks as well. Official have created a safety zone a half-mile radius around the ship and placed 1,200 feet of floating plastic that is designed to contain oil. Another 3,100 feet of boom was placed along Bird Island. Unfortunately, there has been some sheening reported there. They are doing an amazing job in their efforts; however this is not a perfect science. High tides can cause water to flow over the boom, carrying oil with it. In addition to the booms officials are using skimmers to remove the oil from water as needed. The clean up could potentially take months to complete.
While the clean up is taking place the questions about the cause are being pondered. There are not many options to consider and as of yet no answers to prevent future incidents. They have considered water intake or weight distribution issues and eliminated both as factor. For the 24 crew members this ordeal is thankfully over, and their rescue remains the focus for most of us. The clean up crews, coast guard and environmental agencies have just started to deal with the aftermath.