golden ray wreck on fire

Photo of the Golden Ray wreck on fire, May 14, 2021. Photo: Andy Jones

Golden Ray Wreck on Fire

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 21026
May 14, 2021

Update: Fire Out on Golden Ray Wreck

A fire started during wreck removal operations for the Golden Ray wreck in St. Simons Sound, Georgia on Friday, sending a thick plume of black, billowing smoke into the air.

The fire reportedly started Friday morning during pre-cutting operations involving hot work on section three of the wreck.

Fire fighting is on-going using an installed fire suppression system on the wreck itself and also by crews on the VB10000 and smaller “bear cub” tugs inside the Environmental Protection Barrier. Flames could be seen coming from one of the exposed sections of the vessel, opposite from the VB10000 heavy-lift crane vessel hovering above it.

A spokesperson for the St. Simon Sound Incident Command, Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes, told gCaptain earlier that the exact source of the fire at present was unknown, although it started during pre-cutting operations to prepare section three for the next cut in the salvage and wreck removal. Himes noted that fire has always been within the scope of possibility, however it’s hard to believe that a fire of this magnitude was part of the plan.

An on-going live feed of the vessel and salvage can be found on Facebook here (you may need to refresh the page or find the latest post which will say “Live” in red).

An update from the incident command earlier said all non-essential personnel had been evacuated safely from the VB10000 crane vessel.

The photos below were sent to us earlier in the day by Andy Jones, who’s been doing videos on the salvage on his Youtube page:

Courtesy Andy Jones
Photo courtesy Andy Jones
Photo courtesy Andy Jones

An update from the St. Simons Sound Incident Command had this to say:

BRUNSWICK, Ga – A fire began on the wreck of the Golden Ray this afternoon.

All non-essential responders from the VB-10000 have been safely evacuated and there are no reported injuries at this time.

Responders were conducting pre-cutting operations and actively using fire suppression systems as a preventative measure when the fire began.

Firefighting vessels are on scene. Safety personnel are conducting community air monitoring. -END

The fire is just the latest set back for the extended wreck removal and it is seeming more and more likely that it will alter the remainder of the operation, which was already expected to last several more months.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Sound 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. 

T&T Salvage is the lead wreck removal contractor. The cutting and removal, which kicked off in early November 2020, is being performed by the heavy lift vessel VB-10000, which has been modified and equipped with a chain that is being used to cut through the ship’s hull in seven places, separating the wreck into eight sections. Once separated, the VB-10000 lifts the sections onto a barge for sea fastening and transportation to a recycling facility in Louisiana. 

All the work is being conducted inside a constructed Environmental Protection Barrier to prevent the spread of pollution. Oil spill response and mitigation is also continuing around the clock outside the barrier and along nearby shorelines.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Command, which is overseeing the wreck removal, recently reported progress with the removal of Section Seven, which contained the ship’s reinforced engine room and proved to be the most difficult section to separate to date. Three cuts and four sections remain.

Before today’s fire, officials had said the wreck removal was likely to take several more months and plans are for it to continue through hurricane season, which starts June 1.

You can really see the fire flare up if you scroll through this video, which is also below:

The photos below give you an idea of the how the wreck looks behind all that smoke.

golden ray
Photo taken in late March 2021. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
golden ray wreck removal
Aerial view of cutting operations to separate Section Seven at the Golden Ray wreck site on Sunday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo. Photo from mid-April 2021
golden ray salvage
Picture of the Golden Ray taken October 1, 2021, in St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia. St. Simons Incident Command Photo
The heavy-lift vessel VB10,000 arrives at the Golden Ray wreck site on Oct. 27, 2020. St. Simons Sound Incident photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes

The photo below gives you a good look at the inside of the vessel.

Responders use an oil skimmer to recover oil discharges near the Environmental Protection Barrier during lifting operations. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo

Here’s some more video from today’s fire:

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