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 Wreck Removal Faces Latest Setback But Work Continues

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 7669
April 15, 2021

Crews working to cut up and remove sections of the Golden Ray shipwreck in St. Simons Sound, Georgia have restarted cutting operations on “Section Seven” after the cutting chain broke on two separate occasions over the last week.

The St. Simons Sounds Incident Response says joining links in the cutting chain failed on April 7 and again on April 12, but divers and personnel aboard the VB-10000 have now reconnected the chain, allowing the cutting of the section to continue.

Responders replaced larger profile joining links with slimmer Kenter joining links which are expected to optimize the cutting system. Meanwhile, wreck removal supervisors continue to perform routine inspections of the cutting apparatus and recommend equipment maintenance or replacement as needed.

“Removing the Golden Ray is a highly complex and painstaking process. Each section presents unique challenges,” said Mauricio Garrido of T&T Salvage. “We will continue to make prudent and practical adjustments when we encounter difficulties and identify opportunities to achieve our priorities in a safer, more effective manner. Any lessons learned are quickly integrated into existing plans and procedures.”

Fixed monitors and hydrographic surveys continue to confirm that the wreck remains stable.

Approximately 40 vehicles and 6 decks were also removed recently from inside the so-called Environmental Protection Barrier using a crane equipped with a multi-tine grapple attachment. Divers also completed drilling additional drain holes for all remaining sections. 

The car carrier had some 4,200 vehicles on board when it lost stability near the Port of Brunswick in September 8, 2019. It continues to remain overturned on a sandbar where work is taking place to cut up and remove the wreck section by section. All of the vehicles remained inside the ship’s holds before the cutting operation began last November.

Earlier this month, we reported that crews had returned to cutting Section Seven after previously abandoning it to work another section of the wreck, which went more smoothly. Section Seven contains the ship’s engine and has so far been the most difficult and time consuming to cut.

The VB-10000 is a giant heavy lift catamaran 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.

So far crews have completed the cutting and removal of three sections (two from the bow and one from the stern) out of eight total.

Meanwhile, the Barge Julie B has safely arrived at a recycling facility in Louisiana last Friday with the latest section to be removed, known as Section Two.

We’ll continue to follow the wreck removal operation for the foreseeable future.

You can find our complete coverage of the Golden Ray wreck removal here.


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