The tugs Crosby Star, Caitlin and Kurt J. Crosby assist a dry-dock barge loaded with Section Five of the Golden Ray wreck to a local facility near Mayor’s Point Terminal on Sunday, September 26, 2021. One section of the wreck remains. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Golden Ray Wreck Down to Just One Section Remaining

Mike Schuler
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September 27, 2021

Nearly two years after cutting operations began, only a single section remains of what used to be the Golden Ray car carrier.

St. Simons Sound Incident Reports reported Monday the successful removal of Section Five, leaving just one section yet to be removed. Wreck removal personnel lifted and secured Section Five onto a dry-dock barge on Saturday and tug crews transited the barge to the nearby Mayor’s Point Terminal on Sunday.

The success came after engineers had to custom-build a cradle system on the barge in order to receive the section, which appeared to have deteriorated having been submerged since the ship capsized in September 2019.

After inspection by the response engineering team, the Incident Response said the section will be staged for partial dismantling at a local facility, as opposed to being towed as is to a recycling facility in Louisiana for dismantling.

“We are very proud of the tremendous effort to maintain safety by each member of the response team throughout the entire operation to lift and remove Section Five of the wreck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “Even with the end of the wreck removal phase of this response in sight, we continue to prudently execute our safety, environmental protection and port function priorities.”

Meanwhile, crews on the VB-10000 began a maintenance period on Sunday in preparation for subsequent lifting operation on Section Four, the final section of the wreck. Prior to lifting Section Four, two previously removed sections will be transloaded from dry-dock barges to the Barge Julie B, by the VB-10000, and secured for transit to a recycling facility in Louisiana.

The NTSB report on its investigation into the accident, released earlier month, revealed 656-foot-long Golden Ray was caring over 4,100 vehicles when it began to heel rapidly during a 68 degree turn to starboard less than 40 minutes after leaving the Port of Brunswick on September 9, 2019. Despite attempts by the pilot and crew to counter the heel, the vessel listed 60 degrees to port in under a minute before it grounded outside of the main shipping channel.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the capsizing to be the chief officer’s error entering ballast quantities into the stability calculation program, which led to his incorrect determination of the vessel’s stability and resulted in the Golden Ray having an insufficient righting arm to counteract the forces developed during a turn.

All 23 crewmembers and one pilot on board were rescued, including four engineering crew who were trapped in the vessel for nearly 40 hours due to open watertight doors that allowed flooding into the vessel. The NTSB said damages from the accident were around $200 million, including the total loss of the vessel and $142 million worth of cargo.

The wreck removal operation kicked off in Fall 2019 and involved using the VB-10000 cutting the wreck into eight sections, inside an erected Environmental Protection Barrier, for removal by barge.

Now more than two years since the grounding, only a single section remains in the wreck removal operation.

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