Photo: Image courtesy: St.Simons Sound photo

Gallery: Colossal section of Golden Ray cut and loaded onto a barge

A giant section of the Golden Ray wreck has been cut and lifted onto a barge, marking a major milestone in the removal of the capsized car carrier from St. Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick.

Responders lifted the section using ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene slings that are as strong as steel at a fraction of the weight on November 30.

The Section One, of the planned eight, has been loaded onto the Barge JULIE B which is now taking it to a local site for sea-fastening.

The barge is equipped with pollution mitigation and self-containment capabilities. It has also been outfitted with custom fabricated cradles that match the profile of Section One precisely.

The cutting of the wreck was launched on November 7, and was suspended during the Tropical Storm Eta.

St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command published several photos from the operation, showing the gargantuan size of the wreck as well as the challenging task of removing the giant sections and maneuvering them:

The wreck is surrounded by an environmental protection barrier with netting to the seafloor designed to catch large debris for removal.

“This is our first major milestone in the removal operation. We validated the overall removal method while we continue to refine our strategies to increase the efficiency of the next six cuts,” said Commander Efren Lopez, U.S. Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator.

“Responders on the shore and on the water have vigilantly kept watch for and responded to any environmental impacts. We encourage the public to continue reporting any debris they encounter through the Debris Reporting Hotline and online form.”

Photos from the lifting operation revealed dozens of crushed cars still stacked in the section which was cut.

Preparations for the second cut have begun.

Under the removal plan, contractors are using the VB-10,000 floating crane to cut through the hull with a large diamond-cutting chain.

Each section of the Golden Ray, weighing approximately 2,700 to 4,100 tons, will be lifted by the VB-10,000 onto a barge, then transported to a certified off-site recycling facility for further dismantling and recycling.

To remind, Texas-based T&T Salvage LLC (T&T) was selected to remove the wreck of the capsized car carrier, taking over from DonJon-SMIT, which was the initial response contractor.

The Hyundai Glovis-operated car carrier started listing heavily after it became disabled in early September 2019 in St. Simons Sound near Brunswick, Georgia.

The crew of the vessel, which was carrying about 4,000 cars bound for the Middle East, was evacuated before the ship overturned.