Shaped charges approved for use in Golden Ray cutting operations

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Welders guide a newly fabricated side plate into position during lifting lug repair operations on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck. [St. Simons Sound Incident response photo.]

In a new development, explosives—in the form of low hazard flexible linear-shaped charges (LH FLSC)—are set to be used in the dismantling of the wreck of the capsized car carrier Golden Ray.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Response reports that conventional cutting operations on the wreck resumed today after being paused for required maintenance on the equipment being used by the heavy lift vessel VB-10000 to chain-saw the wreck into section.

Meantime welding technicians continue to make repairs to the side plates of the lifting lugs for Sections Four, Five and Six on the topside of the Golden Ray wreck. The side plates of the lifting lugs deformed due to heat generated from the fire, which occurred inside the wreck on May 14, 2021. Response engineers will reinspect the lugs using non-destructive testing once the repairs are complete.


Today, the Unified Command (UC) reported that it had a approved a plan permitting the use of the low hazard flexible linear-shaped charges (LH FLSC) to execute precise cuts through reinforced steel brackets obstructing the cutting chain path on an as-needed basis by the response engineers and the salvage master. The UC consulted with engineering and environmental experts from federal and state agencies during the planning and permitting process prior to approving the use of the cutting charges. Federally licensed and qualified personnel will follow strict safety protocols for the storage, transport and handling of the cutting charges and fire suppression systems will be energized before, during and after charge cutting operations.

Any potential environmental impacts will be minimal because all cutting charge detonations will be confined to the interior of the wreck above the water line and remotely fired from a safe site on the topside of the wreck. Response safety personnel will monitor ambient noise levels during any cutting charge detonations.

“Low hazard flexible linear-shaped charges are another industry-standard, high-precision cutting tool,” said lead salvage contractor T&T Salvage President Mauricio Garrido. “We’ve added it to our list of approved pre-cutting methods in order to sever any heavily-reinforced steel obstructions from the cutting chain path on an as-needed basis.”

“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “By using the cutting charges, we can greatly reduce any safety risks to our personnel when accessing the interior of the wreck to clear any obstructions while continuing a removal operation that safeguards the community and the environment.”

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