Photo: The VB-10000 moved off Section Seven to prepare for cutting operations on Section Two on Saturday. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo

Golden Ray Wreck Removal Hits Hiccup Cutting Section Seven

Mike Schuler
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March 1, 2021

Crews working to cut up and remove the Golden Ray wreck from Georgia’s St. Simons Sound will shift their focus to another section after a chain failure while cutting the section they have been working on for a month.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Response reports that a link in the cutting chain failed during cutting operations on Section Seven on Friday, the latest hiccup in the cutting of the section which houses the ship’s engine. As a result and to avoid further delay, crews will shift the VB-10000 to begin cutting on Section Two.

The Barge JULIE B is expected to arrive in Brunswick, Ga. in approximately 10 days and will receive Section Two once the section is separated and lifted.

With two sections already removed, crews began working on Section Seven on January 27, but work on the section was quickly put on maintenance hold to fix issues with the cutting apparatus. While the VB-10000 cuts and lifts Section Two, divers will survey Section Seven and install a system so that the cutting chain can be placed back into the cut groove.

The incident response confirms that the wreck remains stable and responders plan to return to Section Seven after Section Two is removed.

Crews also continue to observe and recover oil sheens and debris on the water around the wreck site

“The Unified Command (UC) developed a multi-layer approach for observing, surveying, documenting and mitigating any releases of oil or debris during cutting and lifting operations. Recovery personnel are on-station at the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB), at the shoreline and on the water around the Golden Ray shipwreck. Responders are maintaining protective boom at sensitive locations around St. Simons Sound.”

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. 

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. 

The first cutting operation commenced in early November. Since then, crews have fully cut and removed two sections (Section Eight and Section One), one each from the bow and stern.

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