Anchor chain attached to the pulley system on the VB-10000 heavy-lift vessel moves slowly to cut through Section One of the Golden Ray wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

First Cut in Golden Ray Salvage Progresses Through Keel

Mike Schuler
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November 25, 2020

Responders are continuing with the first cut in the salvage of the Golden Ray car carrier in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, the St. Simons Sound Incident Command said Wednesday in an update on the cutting process.

The cutting of section one has now progressed through the keel, where the thickest and most structurally dense portion of the hull.

Engineers meanwhile have been gathering data and modifying operations to increase cutting efficiency, and they now expect cutting to move more quickly through the remainder of the section, according to the incident command.

So far, minor pollution has been reported within the proximity of the wreck and along the shoreline. Responders continue to recover small pieces of debris, some of which are oiled. Light oil sheening continues to be observed adjacent to the wreck during the daily aerial and on-water surveys. Last week, a lightly-oiled bird was recovered inside the Environmental Protection Barrier and safely transferred it to a regional wildlife facility for rehabilitation. Natural Resource Advisors have also removed the carcasses of a pelican and a gull from the Environmental Protection Barrier. The carcasses were not oiled.

The hull of the wreck of the Golden Ray shows the progress of the Section One cut. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

The 150-yard safety zone around the Environmental Protection Barrier is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The Incident Command is also reporting drone sightings over the wreck site.

“Our crews are working under very challenging conditions. Recreational boats impeding the safety zone and drone activity in the area where our teams are actively working can be a distraction that leads to a mishap or injury,” said Incident Commander Tom Wiker, Gallagher Marine Systems. “We ask that people please respect the safety zones as they are in place for the safety of the public and responders”

The hull and the topside of the wreck of the Golden Ray shows the progress of the Section One cut. Photo released November 20, 2020. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

The VB10000 began cutting the Golden Ray within an erected Environmental Protection Barrier on November 6, more than a year after the car carrier wrecked in St. Simons Sound, Georgia. Some twenty-five hours into the cut the cutting chain broke.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded as it departed the Port of Brunswick in September 2019. All vehicles remain inside the ship’s cargo holds and will be cut along with the wreck’s hull.

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