Salvors Prepare for Third Cut Through the Hull of Grounded Ro/Ro

ssi vb 10000 golden ray
Equipment maintenance under way aboard the heavy lift barge VB 10000 (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Published Jan 11, 2021 2:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Salvors are working to prepare for cutting operations on the third section of the wreck of the grounded ro/ro Golden Ray. The preparations include maintenance on cutting and hoisting equipment, making preparatory cuts and holes along the expected route of the cut, and drilling new holes in the bottom of the section so that mud and water can drain out during lifting. 

Limited oil pollution is an expected part of the cutting process, and the salvage team has set up a containment barrier around the wreck site to minimize the spread of any fuel oil spilled from the hull. The second chain cut passed through the vessel's engine room, and salvors predicted that it would result in a release of lube oil and residual fuel that was not possible to remove during lightering preparations. 

Responders are still finding and mitigating light oil sheens near the wreck and recovering debris from the shoreline, the response command said. 

Responders work on a pulley block on the deck of a work barge below the gantry of the VB-10000. (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Four-image sequence of the pouring of a wire rope socket termination for the cutting rig (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

The stern section of Golden Ray aboard the barge 455-8 at Mayors Point Terminal in Brunswick, Georgia (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Responders welded cargo stoppers to secure Section Eight to the deck of the barge 455-8 during sea-fastening operations. (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Responder on the Barge 455-8 cuts cable during sea-fastening operations (St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Operations to secure the previous section - the vessel's stern - are under way on board the deck barge 455-8, which will carry it to a scrapyard in Louisiana for recycling. The first section - the bow - has already been delivered for demolition. 

The Golden Ray partially capsized during a starboard turn while outbound in St. Simons Sound in September 2019, coming to rest on her port side. The cause of the casualty has not yet been formally established, but in September 2020, a naval architect with the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Center testified that the vessel did not have sufficient ballast water in her tanks for the amount of cargo she had on board.

For safety reasons, the salvage response team has asked drone operators not to fly over the scene to capture imagery of the cutting process. Mariners and boaters are cautioned to keep a distance of at least 200 yards from the operation.