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Two Sections of Golden Ray Head Back to Wreck Site

Section 3 golden ray
Section 3 returns to the VB 10,000, Oct. 3 (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Published Oct 6, 2021 9:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Although they departed the wreck site in St. Simons Sound many weeks earlier, two of the hull sections of the capsized ro/ro Golden Ray have returned to the scene.

The two sections - labeled for reference as the third from the bow and the sixth from the bow - were first loaded out and removed from the wreck site on July 5 and August 14, respectively. They were towed to a shoreside facility, where the smashed cars and loose deck sections inside were pulled out and set aside for local recycling. All emptied out and prepped for sea, the two sections have now been towed back to where they started, where a giant crane barge is ready and waiting to pick them up again. 

The heavy lift barge VB 10,000 is the centerpiece of the wreck removal operation, responsible for section cutting and hoisting. It is moored to bottom anchors at the wreck site, and it sits inside of an enclosure of steel pilings and containment booms. It is the only asset available with the necessary hoisting capacity, so the salvage team is bringing each section back to it in order to transload the wreckage to a different barge.

VB 10,000 hoisted and transferred Section Three from a drydock barge onto the Crowley deck barge Julie B on Sunday. During the operation, the barge made contact with one of the VB 10,000's pontoons, resulting in a 12-inch crack in the barge's port bow above the waterline. Repairs have already been made, and the barge returned to the VB 10,000 on Wednesday to resume work. 

The massive Julie B has enough capacity for two sections at once, and when the second piece is transferred to its deck later this week, the barge will be towed south to deliver both pieces to a scrapyard in Louisiana. Once it departs, the operation will be prepped and ready to lift the very last segment of the hull of the Golden Ray, bringing the year-long, $1 billion saga to a close.