Until the end of 2020, the red and blue upside-down hull of the Golden Ray could remain where it is, a colossal accidental landmark in the panoramic St. Simons Sound.
St. Simons Unified Command Sound Response team Petty Officer Michael Hines said officials will soon decide on a contractor to take on the job of dismantling the 25,000-ton sunken vessel. The priority, he said, is tackling pollution.
“There are many phases. First and foremost, this is a pollution response. We are currently removing fuel, removing oil from the ship,” Hines said. “As that’s going on, we also have contractors that are drawing up proposals — the magnitude of removing a vessel of this size.
“It is difficult to get to some of the tanks.”
Hines told WABE they have finished stabilizing the ship’s structure and removing a considerable amount of fuel from its tanks and oil from its engine.
Specialized divers have descended between 30 to 50 feet, squeezing themselves into the ship’s confined spaces with skimmers to collect oil.
Environmental mitigation comes before removing the ship, Hines said. Making sure the ship’s fuel is no longer a danger to marine life by sealing any escape routes is a priority.
So far, 317,000 gallons have been extracted.
Meanwhile, the U.S Coast Guard and the National Transportation Board are still investigating what caused the Cargo ship to capsize on Sept. 8.