Final cut of Golden Ray completed

Salvors have completed the final cut in the wreck of capsized car carrier Golden Ray is St Simon’s Sound, Brunswick, Georgia, USA.

One of sections Four and Five was being prepared for lifting and stowing onto a dry-dock barge. Once that process is complete, the final segment will be loaded and stowed on deck barge Julie B. An extra dry-dock barge is on site in case it is needed for the last segment.

The unified command did not report any large-scale fuel oil spillage during the last cutting evolution.

While salvors’ early projections had been that each cut could be achieved n about 24 hours, in fact the vessel proved remarkably resistant to slicing. New bespoke chains had to be delivered after the first chains proved not to be up to the task. The wear on even these chains, the biggest and toughest ever used for such a slicing operation, was heavy. Even for the final slicing there had to be a pause to replace worn parts of the system. Each cut took from just under a week to more than a month. The extreme forces added extra time between cuts for equipment repairs and repositioning.

Other delays, including a shutdown because of an outbreak of Covid-19 among the crew from July to September 2020, and then a major fire in May 2021, have led to the project taking 19 months of site work so far (and 24 months to the day since the incident itself), as well as spiralling costs that have seen numbers approaching $1bn being bandied around.

Time-lapse video:

Helicopter shot