Golden Ray

The VB 10,000 straddles the stern end of the Golden Ray with a cloud overhead.

The crane vessel VB 10,000 began cutting Friday on the stern section of the shipwrecked Golden Ray, which has sat half-submerged in the St. Simons Sound since it overturned on Sept. 8, 2019, while heading out to sea with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles, according to Unified Command.

The presence of the 656-foot-long shipwreck diminished by 114 feet when the VB 10,000 completed the three-week task of cutting off the vessel’s bow section on Nov. 28. The twin-hulled, 255-foot-tall VB 10,000 straddles the shipwreck and employs a massive anchor chain to tear into the layers of solid steel by force of tension applied by its system of pulleys and winches.

Lifting lugs pre-attached to the ship’s exposed starboard side hoist each ship section from the water and place it on a barge for transport. The separated bow section of the Golden Ray departed local waters aboard the barge Julie B on Tuesday, shoving off from its berth on Brunswick’s East River in route to a recycling facility in Gibson, La.

Flotillas of oil and debris cleanup teams are patrolling the waters outside the environmental protection barrier, a 1-mile perimeter that surrounds the shipwreck with a system of mesh netting beneath and oil mitigation boom on the surface. Additional patrols of trained cleanup crews police local shorelines for debris, which so far has included mostly plastic bits from vehicles.

T&T Salvage has drilled a series of holes along the exterior cutting line of the stern section and taken other measures in hopes of expediting completion of the cut. The first cut began Nov. 6 and was hampered by broken chain links, weather and other delays.

Anyone who spots suspected shipwreck debris along local shorelines is asked to call 912-944-5620. Anyone who spots suspected oil sheens is asked to call 800-424-8802.

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