Photos: Salvors Begin Third Cut Through the Hull of the Golden Ray

The Golden Ray prior to the commencement of wreck removal, October 2020 (USCG)

Published Jan 28, 2021 1:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, salvors began the third cut through the hull of the grounded ro/ro Golden Ray in St. Simpons Sound, Georgia. The plan calls for separating the ship into eight sections, using a heavy stud-link anchor chain to cut transversely through the vessel and its automotive cargo. 

“Safety is our number one priority as we begin removing the next section of the Golden Ray wreck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Efren Lopez, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, “We are using extraordinary methods and machinery to ensure the safety of the public, the responders and the environment. We appreciate the support from the community and urge them to heed our safety messages.”

The third cut will pass through the vessel's engine room and may have a heightened risk of petroleum release. In a months-long effort before the operation, the salvage team installed an environmental protection barrier around the work site to contain as much oil and debris from the vessel as possible. A small flotilla of chartered spill response boats are on hand to clean up oil within the barrier and any that might escape.  

Shots of chain lined up in preparation for the cutting evolution (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Salvors pull a chain into position in preparation for the start of cutting (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Floating drydock arrives in St. Simons Sound (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

The third cut will separate section seven, just forward of the stern (section eight, which has already been removed). It will be loaded out on a deck barge and transported to a Louisiana recycling yard in the same manner as sections one and eight, which have already been shipped.

As with previous cuts, the response command cautioned nearby residents that the process may be noisy. For safety, the public has been asked not to fly drones around the wreck site, and the salvors will report drone sightings and operators to law enforcement. 

The first of four dry-dock barges recenly arrived in St. Simons Sound to facilitate a slightly different disposal plan for sections three, four, five and six. These center sections will be partially dismantled alongside a pier in Brunswick, Georgia before shipping.