SMIT official clarifies stance on Golden Ray large-scale demolition

Salvage company Donjon-SMIT, which has filed an injunction in US District Court seeking to halt salvage operations on capsized car carrier Golden Ray by another salvage company – T&T Salvage – was now asking a federal judge to order those involved in the project to provide more records, reported The Brunswick News.

In the new filing, attorneys representing the Donjon-SMIT salvage partnership asked the court for an order that the US Coast Guard provide “the full administrative record”, or failing that, keep the evidence open and produce an order for expedited discovery.

“The court and the plaintiff must have the benefit of the entire administrative record before a determination can be made whether the administrative record justifies the (federal on-scene coordinator)’s decision to allow a deviation of the (vessel response plan). Plaintiff does not, at this time, have the full administrative record and only has those portions that defendants have provided to the court”, wrote the plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Odachowski.

He went on to say that Donjon-SMIT’s attorneys had only learned Wednesday morning that the Coast Guard would not be able to provide a certified copy of the full record until March 6th, which was a week after US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood’s order that the parties file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The plaintiff’s attorneys are also asking the court to order depositions of each member of Unified Command, representatives of the owner of the Golden Ray, its insurer and salvage consultant within five days of the production of the full administrative record.

The Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Gallagher Marine Systems.

T&T Salvage was hired by the ship’s owner and insurer to remove the Golden Ray from the sound. A company executive who testified for SMIT in the Golden Ray lawsuit hearing in US District Court Tuesday reiterated that Donjon-SMIT would have executed a large-scale demolition plan had Unified Command dictated it.

Donjon-SMITS line is that large-scale demolition was a high-risk operation for the Golden Ray when a lower-risk option existed.

SMIT Salvage Americas President and General Manager Douglas Martin said that “if the Unified Command decides the (large-scale demolition) is the required methodology then we would be willing to execute the methodology under our salvage and marine firefighting agreement”.

SMIT-Donjon initially proposed cutting the vessel into smaller pieces for removal, but Hyundai Glovis selected instead a proposal under which the vessel would be cut into eight large sections with the 4,200 vehicles on board remaining in place.

“By cutting larger sections, fewer time-consuming and pollution-threatening cuts are required for the wreck removal, which means the operation will proceed in a significantly faster and more-efficient manner,” Hyundai Glovis said in court documents.