Golden Ray salvage operations ramp up

Written by Nick Blenkey
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St. Simons Sound Incident responders conduct tests of the anchor moorings using the Crosby Brothers LLC 16,500 bhp tug Kurt J.Crosby on Sept. 23, 2020. [St. Simons Sound Incident Response photo].

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command working on the salvage of the capsized car carrier Golden Ray has been ramping up operations inside the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) protecting the wreck. Cutting operations, using the VB 10,000 heavy-lift, twin-gantry crane (VB 10K), are projected to start in October.

As a COVID-19 precaution, the first wave of what will be approximately 100 critical response personnel are now sequestered at a shoreside lodging facility under the strict health and safety protocols that will be in place throughout the cutting and lifting operations. The personnel conduct daily health safety checks and are to have zero interaction with responders and the public outside of their “bubble.” The facility is equipped with its own dock and transport vessels for safe transit to and from the wreck site. Their primary function is to work inside the EPB on the VB 10,000 heavy lift crane and on all of the large debris removal cranes, barges and vessels.

“Our planning and logistics personnel have worked non-stop the last few months implementing this bubble so that our personnel most critical to cutting and lifting operations can work safely and efficiently,” said Incident Commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “It’s imperative that we work with minimal interruptions once we start cutting. This is an unprecedented removal operation with extreme environmental conditions.”

As part of the preparatory work responders conducted tests the anchor moorings using the Crosby Brothers LLC 16,500 bhp tug Kurt J.Crosby on Sept. 23, 2020. The anchor-handling tug was brought in to set the array of anchor moorings for the VB 10,000 heavy lift crane.

The Golden Ray wreck remains stable and is monitored continuously by sensors at the wreck site and during hydrographic surveys around the EPB.

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