Responders use an oil skimmer to recover oil discharges near the Environmental Protection Barrier during lifting operations. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo

Second Section Removed in Golden Ray Wreck Removal

Mike Schuler
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January 5, 2021

The heavy lift vessel VB-10000 has lifted the stern section of the Golden Ray onto a barge after completing the second of seven cuts in massive wreck removal operation.

The incident command said the removal of the section, known as Section Eight, was completed Monday onto the deck of the barge 455-8, which remained in the area to for ballasting and sea-fastening operations.

This morning the barge transited with the section to Mayor’s Point Terminal where it will undergo additional sea-fastening before transiting to a recycling facility in Louisiana.

During the lifting operation, on-water response teams recovered some oil released from the wreck, however the incident command indicated that this sort of discharge was expected and planned for. Photos show some of the discharges did escape the Environmental Protection Barrier that has been built around the wreck.

“Due to this cut’s proximity to the engine room, we expected to encounter residual oil/petroleum products inside tanks, piping and machinery which could not be accessed in the fuel removal phase of the response. The response team was fully prepared and in position to respond throughout the entire cut and lift.” said Incident Commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems.

A formation of response vessels use a Current Buster to collect and recover an oil discharge in the vicinity of the Golden Ray wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.

The second cut and now the removal of the section comes only about a week after crews started with the cut, reflecting improvements from modifications that have been made to the cutting apparatus since the first cut back in November.

“This cut progressed much faster than the first cut to remove the bow section, but we still see some room for improvement and will continue to refine our operations” said lead wreck removal contractor T&T Salvage President Mauricio Garrido.

In total, crews will make seven cuts, separating the hull of the Golden Ray into eight sections for lifting, removal and transportation to recycling facility.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Sound, Georgia as it departed the Port of Brunswick all the way back in September 2019. All vehicles remain inside the ship’s cargo holds and are being cut along with the wreck’s hull.

A safety zone remains in place around the EPB and the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter. Meanwhile, pollution monitoring continues around the wreck site and along nearby shorelines.

The Barge 455-8 deballasts as it receives Section Eight, the stern of the Golden Ray wreck. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
The Barge 455-8 is equipped with a containment barrier to capture any further pollution releases from the section. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
An aerial observer surveys the vicinity of the Golden Ray wreck for signs of pollution and relays observations to recovery vessels on the water. St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.
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