Cutting operations to separate Section Seven from the Golden Ray wreck resumed Wednesday, February 10,2021. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Cutting Resumes After Chain Failure in Golden Ray Wreck Removal

Mike Schuler
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February 11, 2021

Crews working on the wreck removal of the Golden Ray have resumed cutting operations after a slight delay to conduct maintenance to the cutting apparatus.

Cutting operations resumed early Wednesday morning to separate Section Seven, which will be the third section of the wreck to be cut off and removed. Cutting of the section began in late January, but the operation was put on hold after a joining link connecting the cutting chain to the pulley system failed, causing the chain to fall into the cutting groove on the topside of the wreck. No injuries were reported as a result of the failure.

The Unified Command (UC) overseeing the operation has also approved a weight-shedding plan for Section Two of the Golden Ray wreck. The plan calls for the use of a Fuchs material-handling machine with a claw attachment to safely grab and remove vehicles and large debris from the exposed side. Divers have also tasked with drilling drainage holes along Section Two to further reduce weight.

“Safety is the most important aspect of operations,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator, “Pausing to maintain the cutting apparatus ensures continued safety of our responders and the public. At the same time, our wreck removal experts will continue advance work on subsequent sections to facilitate their safe and timely removal and transport out of St. Simons Sound.”

Cutting resumed early Wednesday morning after crews replaced rigging wires in the cutting apparatus. Divers are now also working to lengthen pre-cut notches along cutlines for Section Two and Section Three to increase cutting efficiently during subsequent cutting operations.

The UC reports that some 50 vehicles and one moveable deck have now removed from Section Seven. The vehicles and material are stowed on a containment barge inside the Environmental Protection Barrier and will transit to Mayors Point Terminal for offloading.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Sound in Georgia as it departed the Port of Brunswick in September 2019. All vehicles remained inside the ship’s cargo holds upon commencement of the cutting and removal operation.

The operation is being performed by the heavy lift vessel VB-10000, which has been modified to carry out the work. It involves making seven cuts through the Golden Ray’s hull, separating the wreck into eight large sections for lifting and removal to a recycling facility.

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