It took more than 3 million person-hours to remove a capsized cargo ship off the coast of Georgia

·2-min read
Firefighters spray water into the cut away mid-section of the cargo vessel Golden Ray, Friday, May 14, 2021, Brunswick, Ga.
Firefighters spraying water into the cut-away midsection of the cargo vessel Golden Ray on May 14 in Brunswick, Georgia. Stephen B. Morton/AP Photo
  • A cargo ship carrying more than 4,000 cars capsized in September 2019 off the coast of Georgia.

  • Crews removed the last piece of the ship from the wreck site on Monday, the Coast Guard said.

  • It took over 3 million person-hours to clean up, the largest wreck removal in US history.

The removal of a cargo ship that capsized off the coast of Georgia was the largest wreck removal in US history, requiring over 3 million person-hours, the US Coast Guard Southeast said at a press conference Tuesday.

In September 2019, the 656-foot-long vehicle carrier Golden Ray was carrying about 4,000 cars when it capsized and caught fire in St. Simons Sound off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia.

All 24 people on the ship when it capsized were safely rescued.

"Even with all the obstacles we had to face, we completed the wreck removal in a timely manner," Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, the federal on-scene coordinator at St. Simons Sound Incident Response, said at the press conference.

Also at the conference, Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems said 8,000 pounds of ship-related debris and 9,500 pounds of non-ship-related trash were recovered from marshes and the shore.

"The beaches and the marshes are probably as clean as they have been in many years," Graff said.

The final section of the cargo ship was removed Monday, the US Coast Guard Southeast said.

In a report last month, the National Transportation Safety Board said the capsizing was caused by an "incorrect determination of the vessel's stability." Additionally, the ship was able to flood afterward because two watertight doors were left open.

The NTSB said the combined losses from the wreck surpassed $204 million.

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