The VB-10000 shifts over Section Four, the remainder of the Golden Ray wreck on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Golden Ray Wreck Removal Moves to Final Section

Mike Schuler
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October 11, 2021

Preparations are underway in Georgia to remove the final section of the Golden Ray shipwreck from St. Simons Sound more than two years after the car carrier’s capsizing.

Work on the final sections comes after the latest section, known as Section Six, was transloaded from a dry-dock onto the barge Julie B and brought to the nearby Mayor’s Point Terminal for further sea fastening last Thursday. Once secured and inspected for an ocean transit, the Julie B will depart the Port of Brunswick with two wreck sections (Sections Six and Three) enroute to a recycling facility in Louisiana.

Preparations to remove Section Four, the final section of the wreck, have been underway since Thursday . Prior to removing Section Four, additional weight-shedding may be required. Once lifted, the salvage master and the response engineering team will complete the fabrication of a cradle system that allows for the secure loading and transport of the section to a local response facility for partial dismantling.

golden ray wreck removal
Loaded with Sections Three and Six of the Golden Ray wreck, the Barge Julie B continues sea fastening on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, at Mayor’s Point Terminal in preparation to transit the sections to Louisiana. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

Meanwhile, survey teams continue to recover debris along shorelines and from marsh areas in the vicinity of the wreck site. All debris is sorted, catalogued and disposed of according to the response debris plan. Shoreline assessment teams survey over 100 miles of shoreline and marsh areas weekly for any oil impacts.

The wreck removal operation is utilizing the heavy lift barge VB-100000 which has been used to cut the wreck of the Golden Ray into eight sections for lifting and removal by barge. The first cut was conducted in November 2020.

In its final report on the accident published last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the 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.

All 23 crewmembers and one pilot on board were rescued, including four engineering crew who were trapped in the vessel for nearly 40 hours.

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.

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