The Golden Ray’s crew is safe—but the ship itself still sits in the St. Simons Sound after it overturned on its side early Sunday morning.
Maritime experts believe the ship will either be put upright or salvaged.
The Coast Guard says crews are coming up with a game-plan now to save the ship.
A local captain says it will be a slow process.
He hopes it’s an event that won’t be witnessed again on the Golden Isles.
Cap Fendig is part of a family of harbor ship captains. He was an apprentice with a wealth of knowledge about boats like this. He believes this will be a carefully executed salvage operation.
“It’s going to be a long-term, visible process, with a lot of danger, it’s not going to be an easy process,” Fendig said.
How the ship got in this position is unknown. Fendig says the RORO ships like the Golden Ray can rollover.
“Their design is a little more unusual compared to other ships," he said. "Their center of gravity is higher. [As] I said, they have a problem [with] these things rolling over if they lose that center of stability. It’s a vertical center and a ballast issue, if anyone of those falls out of sync, those ships rollover, literally."
He thinks there are two options to save the ship: tilt it after removing the cargo, or cut the ship and salvage it.
Nick Sloane, a senior salvage master with Resolve tells First Coast News that teams will likely get the fuel and pollutants off first, fully inspect the damage on the ship then confirm the plan.
Sloane was part of the crew that uprighted the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship that crashed off the coast of Italy.
Fendig says he hopes the recovery is a success.
“They’ll try different things, but the helpful thing is it’s on the bottom, it’s not blocking the channel either so I hope the Coast Guard will open the channel on Thursday,” Fendig said.
On Wednesday, the Joint Command Center told First Coast News that the unified command is running a test to measure the effects of a vessel passing near the capsized ship.
Another cargo ship called the Emerald Ace passed the Golden Ray with no issues around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
The command center says the port is not open, but the plan is to reopen the port as soon as possible.