Golden Ray salvage faces delay of “several weeks”

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The twin-hull heavy lift vessel VB-10,000 will be used for cutting and lifting operations [Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer John D. Miller]

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command working on the salvage of the capsized car carrier Golden Ray says that cutting and lifting operations on the wreck will be delayed for several weeks.

The delay has been caused by the need for engineers to modify the mooring system for the the twin-gantry, twin-barge heavy lift catamaran VB-10,000 at the wreck-site.

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. However, 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 says it 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 providing 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.

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