Golden Ray salvage operation to be delayed by several weeks due to “engineering challenges”

Photo: US Coast Guard

Salvage engineers will be modifying the mooring system to be used for the heavy lift vessel VB-10,000 at the Golden Ray wreck site, thus delaying the cutting and lifting operations by several weeks, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response unified command said in a statement on Wednesday, October 7.

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 (EPB) and proximity to the shipping channel.

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 unified command is reviewing multiple options for a revised anchor system and will make a decision that ensures the safety of responders and the public, safeguards the surrounding environment, as well as provides for the continuation of commerce in the port.

The Golden Ray wreck remains stable and is monitored continuously by sensors at the wreck site and during hydrographic surveys around the EPB. Approximately 400 personnel and 50 on-water assets including tugs, barges, and response vessels continue preparations to cut and lift the wreck.

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.

Golden Ray, a Majuro-flagged vehicle carrier, had caught fire and capsized in St. Simons Sound in Brunswick, Georgia, on September 8, 2019, and has remained there since. All crewmembers were safely rescued.

The vessel was declared a total loss in the weeks following the incident and has been slated for scrapping. However, the Covid-19 pandemic, the weather in the area, and various technical issues have repeatedly hampered salvage efforts.

See more stories from this month’s Tug and Salvage Week here.

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