Historic: Golden Ray Wreck’s Final Section Removed

Concluding the largest wreck removal operation in the history of the United States, the final section of the Golden Ray car carrier has been removed, said the St. Simons Sound Incident Response.

Historic: Golden Ray Wreck's Final Section Removed
The Heavy Lift Barge VB-10000 Seen Hoisting The Final Section of The Golden Ray Wreck, Section Four On 16th October | Courtesy: St. Simons Sound Incident Response

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The final section of the Golden Ray wreck was removed on Monday, and the crew stowed the final section, which is popularly called the ‘Section Four’ to a barge ship, for transporting it to a local facility at the Mayor’s Point Terminal to partially dismantle the section. Once the section is partially dismantled, the wreck section pieces will then be loaded on-to container barges to ship them to a recycling facility in Lousiana.

A press conference was organized on Tuesday, 26th October, by the Unified Command and representatives from T&T Salvage (the lead salvage contractors) along with the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to announce the completion of the historic wreck removal.

The completion of the Golden Ray wreck removal comes after more than two years since the vessel capsized on 8th September, 2019 with at-least 4,100 vehicles onboard. Thankfully, all 23 crew-members along with the pilot were rescued. The incident occurred as the vessel departed from the Port of Brunswick. The engine-crew were trapped in the vessel for nearly 40 hours, prior to getting rescued and two seafarers suffered serious injuries.

The wreck of the car carrier was cut into eight sections within an erected environmental protection barrier by the heavy lift barge VB-10000, which was utilized to lift and remove the sections. Weight shredding was another critical component of the wreck removal operation, where weathered vehicles were removed from inside the sections after being cut and exposed. This allowed easier handling of the operation.

marinemonks reported about the proceeding to the final cut of the Golden Ray wreck on 16th August, where the crew detached Section Six after locating and securing the source of an oil spill that had been obstructing the effort. Section Six was lifted and loaded onto a dry dock barge for towing it to a response facility in the south of Mayor’s Point Terminal.

The wreck removal operations were subjected to major setbacks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic induced delays, hurricanes, oil spills from the wreck, a complicated engine room section and a major fire, which ripped through the ship-wreck in May, 2021.

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The country’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have mentioned in September, that inaccurate stability calculations have lead to the capsize of Golden Ray. The agency further elaborated, stating that the chief officer’s error entering ballast quantities into the stability calculation program, which resulted in his incorrect determination of the vessel’s stability and led to the Golden Ray having an insufficient righting arm to counteract the forces developed during a turn while transiting outbound from the Port of Brunswick through St. Simons Sound. Contributing to the accident was G-Marine Service Co. Ltd.’s (the vessel’s operator) lack of effective procedures in their safety management system for verifying stability calculations.

The 656-foot-long Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off vessel) began heeling rapidly to the port-side during a 68 degree turn to starboard in less than 40 minutes after departing the port. The rate of turn to starboard then began to increase and the car carrier reached 60 degree heel to port in just under a minute, before it grounded outside the channel.

The damages incurred from the infamous capsizing have been estimated at a whopping $200 million, which includes the total loss of the vessel, and the cargo which was being carried.

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