The salvage and wreck removal of the capsized Golden Ray will continue for “several more months” in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, now more than a year and half since the car carrier ran aground with more than 4,000 vehicles inside.
The St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command updated the media on the extended operation on Monday after reporting the successful separation of “Section Seven” over the weekend. Section Seven proved to be the most difficult section to cut to date due to reinforced steel surrounding the ship’s engine room.
Wreck removal personnel are now preparing the section for lifting operations by removing vehicles, moveable decks and sediment similar to earlier weight-shedding operations. Once lifted, the section will be loaded onto a barge and secured for transit to a facility at the local Mayors Point Terminal to undergo sea-fastening for an ocean transit to Louisiana. Fixed monitors and hydrographic surveys confirm that the remaining wreck is stable.
“While the recent removal of Section Seven which included the engine room has reduced the risk associated with pollution to the environment, our team will continue to maintain a response posture commensurate with the risks that are still there,” said incident commander Tom Wiker of Gallagher Marine Systems.
With the successful separation (cut) of the Section Seven, approximately half the cuts in the operation have been made. The three cuts and four sections that remain are expected to go more smoothly due to lessons learned to date in the operation, although responders anticipate unforeseen challenges.
“We anticipate several more months of wreck removal operations, which will include the demobilization of infrastructure, assets and personnel” so that St. Sounds Sound is left as it was before the wreck occurred, said T&T Salvage President Mauricio Garrido, the lead wreck removal contractor.
The operation will continue unabated into hurricane season kicking off June 1 and will be adjusted as needed if heavy weather is approaching,
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 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.
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