Way back in September of 2019, a care-free, more innocent time, a car carrier cargo ship named the MV Golden Ray capsized off the coast of Georgia in the U.S. with 4,200 Hyundais inside. Well, that big sucker is still there because of, what else, coronavirus.
The Ray fell over into the drink off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia on September 8 on its way to Baltimore. At 32 m wide and a capacity of 19,000 deadweight tonnes dismantling the gigantic Ray was already going to be a tricky undertaking. Crews began making preparations to dismantle the wreck in February of this year, according to NPR.
Well, the entire complicated operation was put on pause until October, according to Freight Waves, a shipping industry news site:
On July 3, a twin-hull heavy-lift vessel arrived at nearby Fernandina, Florida. The VB-10,000’s two 68.58 m-tall gantry cranes will use chains to cut the Golden Ray into eight large sections. Each section, weighing [2,450 to 3,719 tonnes], will be lifted onto a barge and transported to a recycling facility in Louisiana. The VB-10,000 was expected to head to St. Simons Sound in mid-July.
Then the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on the work, Wiker said.
“We’ve had 10 responders test positive and more than 50 responders who have been quarantined due to contact tracing,” Wiker said Friday. “Of these 10, some were critical to the project, including a salvage master and a specialised crane operator.”
The COVID-19 crisis continues to rage in the U.S. without any signs of slowing, but even if it does so magically we are now entering hurricane season, which would put a stop to salvage operations as well. And the U.S. Coast Guard issued an ominous-sounding warning that once the disassembly of the Golden Ray starts it can’t be stopped. Again, from Freight Waves:
Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez said removal of the Golden Ray cannot be disrupted by sickness or storms.
“It is imperative that operations continue uninterrupted once cutting begins,” Lopez said during Friday’s press conference.
Meanwhile, the environmental protection barrier and 24-hour vessel monitoring remain in place. John Maddox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said any releases of oil will be quickly remediated and the collection of air and water samples will continue.
Until then, the wreck has become a bit of a tourist attraction. We’re now getting slightly spooky vacation pictures like this one, which looks straight out of an anime.
Picture I just got from a friend vacationing on the Georgia coast. Remember that big car carrier that tipped over last September with 4,000 Hyundais on board? It's still there. pic.twitter.com/RUjHRi1nLE
— Mark Schirmer (@MarkSchirmer1) August 12, 2020