BRUNSWICK, Georgia (AP) – The tower crane that sawed an overturned cargo ship along the Georgia coast has paused for maintenance and repairs.

Rescue teams have removed nearly two-thirds of the Golden Ray in five giant chunks since the demolition began in November. The remaining 70 meters of the shipwreck will be cut into three huge pieces.

But first the tower crane, with which it spans the shipwreck and pulls 122 meters of anchor chain through its hull, has to be serviced. The giant pulleys that help push the chain through the hull like a blunt saw are lowered for inspection and replacement when necessary, The Brunswick News reported.

Thousands of feet of cables inside the crane are also being checked, said Michael Himes, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class, a spokesman for the interagency command overseeing the demolition.

“They check the entire system for wear and tear and recommend repairs if necessary,” said Himes, who estimated the maintenance could be completed by the end of next week.

The South Korean owned Golden Ray capsized with more than 4,200 cars in its cargo decks shortly after leaving the port of Braunschweig on September 8, 2019. Investigators later concluded that the ship overturned because the center of gravity of the unstable cargo was too was high.

The entire crew was safely rescued, but the ship was counted as a total loss. The demolition began in November and progress has been slower than officials predicted. The dismantling of the ship reached halfway through the expansion of the fourth section in April. The fifth and last chunk was cut away in early July.

Himes said cutting will resume once the crane inspections and maintenance are complete.

The demolition and cleanup are closely monitored by environmental groups. In May, a large fire broke out in the shipwreck, caused by a worker’s cutting torch, blowing thick black smoke into the air. The flames were extinguished with water cannons mounted on boats, no one was injured.

When the last section of the ship was removed, a large amount of oil and fuel leaked into St. Simons Sound. Some of the leaked fuel escaped a containment barrier around the wreck. The crews cleaned up the spill with oil skimmers and an absorbent boom.

About the photo: This Monday, April 26, 2021, file photo, a tower crane is pulling the engine room section away from the remains of the capsized cargo ship Golden Ray off the coast of St. Simons Island, Georgia. A large amount of oil escaped a barrier after being released while crews dismantled the overturned cargo ship along the Georgia coast, the Coast Guard said Thursday, July 1, 2021.

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