Details released on how Golden Ray will be cut up

The Unified Command has released details of how it plans to cut up and remove the wreck of car carrier Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound, Georgia.

The salvors will use Versabar’s VB-10,000 heavy lifting vessel, equipped with a large, diamond-encrusted cutting chain, which will cut the wreck into large sections for removal by barge.

The VB-10000 is a heavy lifting vessel that was designed for decommissioning and installation of offshore oil and gas topsides with a single lift. The vessel is equipped with twin-gantry cranes with a hook height of 178ft and a maximum lifting capacity of 7,500 tons.

The VB-10000 will make seven cuts, splitting the ship into eight sections that will weigh between 2,700 to 4,100 tons each. The vessel will then lift the sections onto a barge for transport to an off-site recycling facility. 

Kevin Perry of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party, warned that it would be noisy. “There’s no way to remove the Golden Ray without making noise—there’s no way around it,” he said, while adding that “the EPB (environmental protection barrier) construction noise will be limited to daylight hours. We appreciate everyone’s patience with the noise levels as we work to remove this wreck as quickly and safely as possible.”

The EPB will help contain surface pollutants and double layer netting to contain subsurface debris. Environmental monitoring will also take place both inside and outside of the barrier. US Coast Guard Cmdr Norm Witt said that “we recognize that the floating boom of the EPB alone will probably not be enough to contain surface pollution when we cut into the hull”. The federal on-scene coordinator for the response said that this was why crews and equipment would be both inside the barrier and outside, ready to respond.

The Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it grounded in St. Simons Bay as it departed Georgia’s Port of Brunswick on September 8th 2019. All the vehicles remain trapped inside.

Construction of the barrier was expected to begin in about two weeks, with pile driving taking place during daylight hours.

John Maddox, Georgia Department of Natural Resource state on-scene coordinator, said that “each individual large-section cut will take approximately 24 hours, and, once a cut begins, must continue until that cut is complete”.

He accepted that this meant noise through the night during some 24-hour periods.