Photos: Golden Ray Wreck Removal Progresses

vb 10000
Cutting under way (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Published Nov 8, 2020 7:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

The wreck removal operation for the capsized ro/ro Golden Ray is under way in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, and the salvage team is making the first cut on the vessel's hull. 

The heavy lift barge VB-10000 is positioned over the wreck and is cutting it into sections using a 400-foot length of anchor chain. Work began Friday morning, but after about 25 hours of cutting, the chain broke, according to the unified command in charge of the response. No injuries or damage to the heavy lift vessel occurred. The response team has retrieved the chain, fixed the broken link, inspected the remainder and placed it back into service. 

“The cutting process was carefully engineered and modeled, but it remains a highly complex operation. This is the first of seven cuts. During each cut we will continue fine-tuning our cutting parameters, including speed and tension of the chain, to improve its efficiency” said Deputy Incident Commander Tom Wiker of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Though the cut is taking longer than expected, we’re gaining valuable knowledge that will guide the rest of this operation.”

The unified command said that it is also keeping a close eye on the weather forecast as Tropical Storm Eta passes by southern Florida. Windy conditions with wind speeds of up to 20 knots are expected on Monday.  

The safety zone around the operation remains in place, and the command asks mariners to stay clear. Unauthorized drone overflights are also prohibited.

VB 10,000 prepares to take the load of the first section before cutting (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

(St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

400 feet of chain is used to saw through the hull of the wreck of the Golden Ray. Each link of the chain is 1.5 feet in length and weighs over 80 pounds. (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Spill response vessels staged outside of the wreck site's environmental protection barrier (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)