The Unified Command (UC), charged with overseeing removal of the wreck of overturned car carrier Golden Ray from near the US port of Brunswick, Georgia, has chosen T&T Salvage of Texas to carry out the task.

The intention is for the Hyundai Glovis vessel to be dismantled where it lies, half-submerged in St Simons Sound, because maritime experts have determined it is not possible to safely right and refloat the ship in a fully intact condition. It was carrying around 4,300 vehicles when it grounded and overturned last September.

Four months on, the UC cautions it continues to develop a plan for the wreck’s removal. Factors to be determined include the best type of barrier to be placed around the Golden Ray so full-scale demolition can begin.

The UC, which includes the US Coast Guard, Georgia’s department of natural resources, and the vessel’s insurers Gallagher Marine Systems, said specific details about the removal and estimated timeline will be released when the plans are finalised.

Commander Matt Baer, who is heading the Coast Guard’s response, said T&T’s appointment is a big step forward, but there is still a significant amount of work to be done.

“While we cannot operate without risk, the UC remains focused on mitigating the overall risk to the environment while ensuring the safe removal of the ship,” he added.

Chris Graff of Gallagher said: “This is one of the most complicated marine casualty responses in US history.”

”This is one of the most complicated marine casualty responses in US history” - Chris Graff, Gallagher Marine Systems

The 20,000 dead weight tonnage Golden Ray partially capsized after the pilot deliberately grounded the vessel in response to a fire on board while it was heading out to sea. All 24 people on the ship were rescued safely, although it took around 30 hours to free four crewmembers trapped in the engine room.

Other hazards have since emerged, but no one has subsequently been injured while the authorities deal with the aftermath of the grounding.