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Experts worldwide gather to disassemble the Golden Ray cargo ship for removal from St. Simons Sound

Plans are in the works to disassemble the Golden Ray cargo ship to remove it from the St. Simons Sound, where it's been sitting since it capsized in September.

The Golden Ray cargo ship has been sitting in the St. Simon’s Sound since Sept. 8, and after weeks of planning, the U.S. Coast Guard says the ship will be disassembled for removal.

“It’s not that easy, it’s very complex,” Tom Wiker, an incident commander, said. “A lot of very intelligent people crunching numbers, looking at the stresses on a vessel that’s supposed to be upright.”

Shipping experts say it would be impossible to safely upright the Golden Ray, which is what brought them to the decision to disassemble it.

The ship can carry about 7,000 vehicles but was only transporting roughly 4,200 when it capsized. Those vehicles were filled with fuel.

Experts say they are controlling what could have been an environmental tragedy.

“We are very fortunate compared to what it could be,” Doug Haymmans with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said. “We surveyed almost 100 miles of shoreline here and less than 25 percent of those areas have traces of oil.”

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Although the Golden Ray and its removal have changed port traffic, the Coast Guard says it really hasn’t had an economic impact.

“We’ve been able to push those vessel arrivals and departures to that nighttime hour window,” Commander Matt Baer, an incident commander for the US Coast Guard, said. “Working with the Georgia Port Authority, that has been an acceptable compromise to this date.”

Although their official plan hasn’t been released, those involved want to assure the public they have brought world-renowned specialists to get the Golden Ray out of the sound safely.

“We have professionals from around the world that have worked on similar situations with car carriers in environments like this and others,” Wiker said.

Officials are still in the planning process and aren’t sure as to when the Golden Ray will be completely removed.

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