BRUNSWICK. Ga. - Officials said Sunday that the process of removing the wreckage of a ship that has rested off the Georgia coast for roughly 18 months is back underway.
St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command began cutting the wreckage early Sunday morning to prepare for a barge, named "JULIE B," to carry a section of the ship away.
St. Simons Sound Incident Response said engineers collected data that confirmed the wreck remains stable.
Responders attach the cutting chain to the cutting apparatus on the VB-10000 during preparations to separate Section Two from the Golden Ray wreck. (Photo: St. Simons Incident Response)
Authorities carved the ship using a cutting chain. Responders fixed ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene slings around grommets on the lifting lugs of the shipwreck, which they used to attach the VB-10000, the lifting vessel, to the Golden Ray wreck.
Officials advised they increased the 150-yard safety zone around the Environmental Protection Barrier to 200 yards for recreational boats.
Responders continue to observe and recover oil sheens and debris on the water around the wreck site, St. Simons Sound Incident Response said.
There is currently no timeline offered on the progress of the operation.
The South Korean-owned vessel capsized with more than 4,200 automobiles in its cargo decks shortly after departing from Brunswick on Sept. 8, 2019.
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All the crew was rescued, while cargo remained submerged long after the ship capsized.
Immediately after the incident, salvage crews began work removing thousands of gallons of fuel that poured into the water.
Salvage experts determined after the shipwreck that the ship needed to be removed piece by piece. The Coast Guard’s Unified Command announced it hired T&T Salvage LLC of Galveston, Texas, to remove the Golden Ray cargo ship in January 2020.
In September 2020, investigators were still working to determine what caused the ship to capsize.
The ship was built in 2017 and inspected by the Coast Guard in May 2019, roughly four months before the ship capsized.
The Brunswick News reports, last month a cutting chain broke and caused a setback in the removal process.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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