Update: What they thought might take months actually took years—more than two, to be exact—but the Golden Ray cargo ship's last section was on Monday yanked out of St. Simons Sound, where it overturned off the coast of Georgia in September 2019. "We have completed the largest wreck removal in US history," USCG Cmdr. Efren Lopez said Tuesday of the "difficult and "complicated" task, which took more than 3 million man hours to complete, reports CNN. The 656-foot ship was found to have crashed due to erroneous calculations on its stability. Despite the good news on the ship's removal, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources rep says it could take years for the waterway to recover from the pollution the wreck caused. Our original story from Sept. 2019 follows:
Now that everybody is off the Golden Ray, the cargo ship that capsized off the coast of Georgia, the next step is less clear. The 71,000-ton, 650-foot cargo ship is filled with oil, has thousands of cars aboard, and is on its side, NBC reports. Securing and removing the Golden Ray could take months, the Coast Guard commander said. In the meantime, the ship is blocking the Port of Brunswick, the nation's second-busiest for vehicles and heavy machinery. The region will endure economic damage until the ship is gone. "This is a complex case," Cmdr. Norm Witt said. "This is definitely something that we want to get right the first time."
Environment protection is a primary concern, and steps were taken after the first rescue. The ship isn't leaking at the moment, per gcaptain, though there's some oil in the water. The Coast Guard's job now is to remove the ship safely while avoiding damaging the environment; the commander said he's hopeful of avoiding a major oil spill. An emergency safety zone has been set up in St. Simons Sound; no ship is allowed with a half-mile of the Golden Ray. But Witt warned some damage is unavoidable. "The vessel is on its side, and it's not designed to be on its side," the commander said. "We will have some pollution." (Read more shipwreck stories.)