Salvors Complete Second Cut Through the Hull of the Golden Ray

golden ray stern section
Stern section (center, background) tilted and separated after completion of the cut (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Published Jan 3, 2021 7:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

Late Saturday night, salvors completed cutting operations to remove the stern of the grounded ro/ro Golden Ray. On Monday, a deck barge will be moved into position to load out the stern, once lifting preparations are complete. The barge will be towed to a nearby terminal for sea-fastening before a tow down the Atlantic coastline to a scrapping facility on the Gulf Coast. The first (bow) section has already been towed away for disposal. 

The second cut went much more quickly than the first, finishing in eight days rather than the 20 days needed for the cut to remove the bow. Over the span of several weeks in December, salvors repaired and altered their setup, substituting a stud-link anchor chain made of a stronger grade of steel for the cutting. (The first cut was hampered by chain wear and breakage.) 

Salvors also made preliminary cuts and holes along the expected path of the cutting chain to reduce the load and speed up the cut. Below the water, dive teams have drilled extra holes into the bottom of the hull in order to accelerate drainage when the section is hoisted out of the water.

Meanwhile, the team's pollution monitoring and mitigation efforts continue near the wreck site and along the shoreline. A small fleet of 30 pollution control and spill response boats are on standby, patrolling the perimeter and conducting cleanup as needed. Plastic waste (car parts) has been recovered from the water and from local beaches, and responders have found and remediated light sheening near the wreck and the shoreline. 

A containment barrier system set up before the wreck removal process has helped to reduce the pollution risk from the cutting operations, which have always been expected to create limited releases of fuel oil and debris. Oil sheen removal has been conducted periodically within the barrier.