Coast Guard honors partners who responded after Golden Ray cargo ship capsized

When the Golden Ray cargo ship capsized in 2019 in St. Simons Sound, it began what would become the largest wreck removal in U.S. history.

On Monday, the Coast Guard will honor the partner agencies who stepped in to help rescue the 23 crew members and then salvage the ship — a process that took more than two years.

The Golden Ray vessel was leaving the Port of Brunswick on Sept. 8, 2019, when it tilted over in St. Simons Sound. A year later, hearings revealed the Coast Guard analysis found the ship overturned because of unstable loading.

Among those who helped rescue the crew and remove the ship were the Brunswick Harbor Pilots, Moran Towing and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Those partners will be recognized Monday with public service awards presented by Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, R-Georgia, and Rear Adm. Douglas Schofield, Commander of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District.

Rescue efforts started quickly for the 23 crew members — four of whom became trapped in the vessel. Dramatic videos captured the moments the final crew member was rescued after being trapped on board for more than 36 hours.

Environmental concerns grew as salvage plans started, and crews began removing fuel from the ship.

RELATED | Timeline: The many problems since the Golden Ray capsized in 2019

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources determined the ship would be disassembled in place because it would not be safe to upright and refloat the vessel.

Rocks were placed next to the ship’s hull to stop erosion. A large net barrier was installed to catch surface pollutants.

The plan was to cut the ship into eight big chunks and remove them. A massive crane came in to lift the parts of the ship out of the water.

Crews finished cutting it down by September 2021, and the last piece of it was removed one month later.

MORE | Golden Ray ‘great feat’: Largest wreck removal in US history complete

The ceremony to honor the maritime partners for the Golden Ray Response will be held at the Southeast Georgia Conference Center at 9 a.m. Monday.

News4JAX will be attending this ceremony.

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