Barge heads for the last Golden Ray | Breaking
Newly fitted with a reinforced steel cradle on its deck, a dry-docked barge set out on Sunday morning to accept the last remaining piece of the wreck of the Golden Ray ship in St. Simons Strait.
After passing through a gate in the 1 mile Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB) that surrounds the salvage site, the dry dock barge will slide between the twin hulls of the VB 10,000 crane vessel and under Section 4 of 4,090 metric tons. Section 4 hangs from strong polymer straps in the arched rafters of the VB 10,000.
Salvors plans to perform the maneuver around noon on Sunday, with a soft high tide in the sound.
The VB 10,000 will facilitate Section 4 into the specially reinforced cradle, after which the welders will descend to the deck of the barge in dry dock to secure the 80 foot long by 135 foot high section in place.
This step typically took a day or more for the previous seven sections that were loaded onto the barge deck cradles for removal.
Once it’s ready, the last visible vestige of the Golden Ray will leave the waters between Jekyll and St. Simons Island – more than two years after the 656-foot-long vessel overturned on September 8, 2019, as it headed out to sea with a cargo of 4,161 vehicles.
The barge will tow Section 4 to a dismantling site on the East River at 615 Bay Street in Brunswick. There it will join Section 5. Sections 4 and 5 included the middle of the Golden Ray. Both sections sustained the brunt of the impact when the vessel capsized on its port side in the sandbank adjacent to the shipping channel. When the VB 10,000 lifted each section above the water, engineers and salvage masters were able to see for the first time that the hull plating on the sunk port side was nearly missing.
After a week of painstakingly raising Section 4, rescuers got their first glimpse of the extensive damage below before Dark Wednesday.
As with Section 5, the damage required further reinforcement of the steel cradle that was on the decks of all the barges that handled the sections of the wreckage of the Golden Ray. In addition to a steel beam cradle on one side of the deck to which each section is attached, welders had to weld additional cradle braces to compensate for damage to the underside. All sections were placed on deck barges while half submerged in St. Simons Strait, lying on the port side.
Sections 4 and 5 are too damaged to support transportation to the final destination – Modern American Recycling Services (MARS) in Gibson, Louisiana. Crews and cranes will dismantle these two sections into smaller pieces of several hundred tons each at the 615 Bay Street side. The parts will then be placed in a container barge and shipped to MARS.
The previous six sections of the Golden Ray were all shipped whole by barge, including Sections 3 and 6. These two sections left local waters on Wednesday aboard the 400-foot-long barge Julie B. Towed by the tug Zion, the Julie B was off Key West, Florida on Sunday morning heading for the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas-based T&T Salvage began in November with a plan to use the VB 10,000’s powerful winches, cables and pulleys to power a cutting chain that tore the Golden Ray into eight sections of several thousand metric tons each. to remove it from the sound.
Once the dry dock barge leaves Section 4, rescuers and cranes will begin cleaning up the untold multitude of vehicles and large pieces of wreckage debris in the EPB mesh net. Salvors will eventually dismantle and remove the EPB.