The dismantling of the car carrier that capsized and has remained in Georgia’s St. Simons Sound since September 2019 has been delayed again.
This time, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command is reporting that the work will be delayed for several weeks because of “engineering challenges.”
The Golden Ray had sailed from Freeport, Texas, to Jacksonville, Florida, before continuing to the Port of Brunswick. The roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessel was carrying about 4,300 vehicles when it ran aground and capsized while departing the port at about 1 a.m. Sept. 8, 2019.
The dismantling work includes cutting the hull of the Golden Ray into eight pieces, each weighing 2,700 to 4,100 tons, and lifting them onto a barge for transfer to a recycling facility in Louisiana. Crews will use chains and a twin-hull heavy-lift vessel, a VB10,000 equipped with two 225-foot-tall gantry cranes, to cut apart the ship.
The project has been delayed twice before — first when 10 salvage crew members became infected with the coronavirus in July and then with the arrival of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has not impacted Port of Brunswick operations this year but posed additional challenges for the response team.
“Salvage engineers will be modifying the mooring system to be used for the VB10,000 at the Golden Ray wreck site, delaying the cutting and lifting operations by several weeks,” the Unified Command announced this week.
The Unified Command is made up of Gallagher Marine Systems, the representative for vessel operator Hyundai Glovis, as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Engineers with the response designed an array of five anchors that accounted for multiple challenging variables such as extreme currents in the Sound, restrictions to movement due to the environmental protection barrier and proximity to the shipping channel,” the Unifed Command’s announcement said. “After successfully installing and pull-testing four anchors, the remaining anchor at the most challenging mooring site in the system did not meet its pull-test requirements.”
The Unifed Command said it would be reviewing multiple options for a revised anchor system.
Meanwhile, the wreck remains stable and is monitored continuously, the Unifed Command said.
“Approximately 400 personnel and 50 onsite water assets including tugs, barges and response vessels continue preparations to cut and lift the wreck,” it said. “An environmental unit conducts shoreline assessments throughout the week and pollution-response teams continue to monitor the wreck site. No emergent environmental impacts have been observed.”
The Coast Guard last month conducted a seven-day hearing to determine the cause of the capsizing. No date has been provided for a decision in the case.