Coronavirus infections delay removal of capsized cargo ship

SAVANNAH, Georgia (AP) – Coronavirus infections among the rescue crew are delaying plans to dismantle and remove an imposing freighter that capsized off the coast of Georgia 10 months ago.

Authorities had hoped to start cutting the South Korean freighter Golden Ray into eight giant pieces in mid-July. Today, final preparations have been halted after nine workers tested positive for COVID-19 and are in quarantine, Chief Coast Guard John Miller said Thursday.

“We do our own contact tracing using CDC guidelines and the people who were in contact with these people, they isolate themselves as a precaution,” said Miller, a spokesperson for the multi-agency command overseeing the operation. safety. “As a result, the timeline has shifted slightly to the right.”

Miller said it was unclear how long the infections and precautions to mitigate the spread would delay the demolition of the shipwreck, but command still hopes to start by the end of July. The rescue team has more than 260 members in total.

The Golden Ray has been stranded off the coast of Saint Simons Island since September 8, when the vessel capsized shortly after leaving Brunswick harbor. The ship is 656 feet (200 meters) long and 4,200 cars remain inside its cargo decks.

The engineers decided months ago that the sinking was too badly damaged to be removed intact. Instead, an imposing floating crane will overlap the shipwreck and saw it into pieces using massive anchor chains.

The Golden Ray will leave the Georgia coast in eight pieces weighing up to 4,100 tonnes (3,720 metric tonnes) each, each loaded onto a barge and transported to a Gulf Coast rescue site. The cars inside will either be bundled with the huge parts of the ship, or dropped into the water for later retrieval.

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The floating crane docked last week in Fernandina Beach, Florida, for the final adjustments. Crews recently completed surrounding the sinking with a giant mesh barrier to contain falling cars and debris left over during the cut.

The workers put on the chains that cut the ship in place and welded massive lugs to the hull of the ship that will attach to the crane to lift each large section.

Overall, cutting and removing the Golden Ray is expected to take approximately seven weeks, said Miller. A cleaning of water debris will follow.

The response team initially hoped that large sections of the ship would be removed before the hurricane season began on June 1. In March, the goal was to beat the busiest part of the Atlantic hurricane season, which usually begins in August.

Even though cutting operations straddle the peak of storm season, “we are still planning to continue and launch it,” said Miller. “We do not plan to wait or delay after the hurricane season.”

Source: AP News

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