Heavy Lift Barge Departs Golden Ray Site After Yearlong Wreck Removal

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VB 10,000 carries out one of its very last lifts for the Golden Ray wreck removal, Oct. 2021 (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Published Nov 2, 2021 5:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

After more than two years of salvage work, the port community of Brunswick, Georgia has finally recovered its scenic seaside view. The giant heavy lift barge VB 10,000 departed St. Simons Sound on Monday, bringing its long tenure at the wreck site of the Golden Ray to an end. 

The VB 10,000 hoisted Golden Ray's final section and loaded it onto a barge on October 25, eliminating the wreck's two-year presence off Brunswick. Its task complete, the heavy-lift barge headed out under tow escort on Monday, almost exactly one year after its arrival.

A fouled thruster briefly delayed its transit, according to Andy Jones, a longtime local observer who runs the "Minorcan Mullet" YouTube channel; however, as of Tuesday, AIS data showed that the VB 10,000's towing vessel (the Crosby Leader) was under way off Florida, making six knots southbound. 

The giant, specialized VB 10,000 - unique in the U.S. for her lifting capacity - will now be available once again for offshore oil and gas work. Her rare Jones Act heavy lift capabilities have been absent from the Gulf of Mexico during the yearlong wreck removal. 

Work at the wreck site of the Golden Ray still continues as the salvage team pulls up torn pieces of the vessel's structure and dozens of the wrecked cars that were once part of her cargo. Once the cleanup is complete, the salvors will disassemble the mile-long environmental protection barrier that surrounds the site.

Near shore, a separate scrapping team will cut the last two sections of Golden Ray's hull into smaller pieces for transport. The final two sections were so badly damaged on the bottom-facing (port) side that salvors had to construct special-purpose cradles to support them. In order to complete the long journey to a wrecking yard in Louisiana, they will have to be cut up.