The final section of the Golden Ray car carrier has been removed, completing the largest wreck removal in United States history, officials said Tuesday.
The St. Simons Sound Incident Response said the final section of the Golden Ray wreck was removed the wreck site on Monday. Crew stowed the final section, known as Section Four, to a barge for transport to a local facility at the Mayor’s Point Terminal for partial dismantling. Once partially dismantled, the wreck section pieces will be transloaded to container barges and shipped to a recycling facility in Louisiana.
The Unified Command and representatives from T&T Salvage, as the lead salvage contractor, and the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the completion of the historic wreck removal.
The completion of the project, at least the wreck removal portion, comes more than two years after the Golden Ray car carrier capsized as it departed the Port of Brunswick with over 4,100 vehicles on September 8, 2019. All 23 crewmembers and one pilot on board were rescued, including four engineering crew who were trapped in the vessel for nearly 40 hours. Two crewmembers sustained serious injuries.
The wreck removal has utilized the heavy lift barge VB-10000, which has been used to cut the wreck of the Golden Ray into eight sections for lifting and removal by barge within an erected environmental protection barrier. Another critical component of the operation, weight shedding, has involved removing weathered vehicles from inside the sections as they are cut up and exposed, allowing for easier handling.
The NTSB has 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.
The agency issued two safety recommendations to the ship’s operator, G-Marine Service Co. of South Korea, recommending the company revise its safety management system to establish procedures for verifying stability calculations and also its safety management system audit process to verify crew adherence to the Arrival/Departure Checklist regarding the closure of watertight doors.
According to the NTSB report, the 656-foot-long Golden Ray began to heel rapidly to port during a 68 degree turn to starboard less than 40 minutes after leaving port. Despite attempts by the pilot and crew to counter the heel, the rate of turn to starboard increased, and the vessel reached a heel of 60 degrees to port in under a minute before it grounded outside of the channel.
Damages from the incident have been estimated at $200 million, including the total loss of the vessel and all cargo inside.
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