The boom of the barge Thor dominates the sky as it sits moored in the East River on Friday afternoon.

The mighty Thor descended Thursday on the East River in Brunswick, but this is no spoiler alert for a certain Marvel comics movie sequel that also is being filmed locally.

Just so we are clear, there are no rumors the legendary superhero will make an appearance in the upcoming Black Panther 2, scenes for which are scheduled to be filmed at Brunswick’s Mary Ross Waterfront Park on the East River.

Yet, like the mythic legend of Norse lore, this Thor is astoundingly big, immensely powerful and astonishingly complex. But as with almost everything else around here that is big and powerful and complex, this monstrous manifestation of machinery is just another character in the ongoing saga of the shipwrecked Golden Ray.

Thor’s deck stretches to 370 feet. A multistory bunk house/control center sits at Thor’s stern, from which stretch a myriad array of cables that direct the colossal crane perched at the bow of this beast. That steel-girded crane can climb skyward to roughly the length of a football field, with a lifting height capacity of nearly 280 feet. There is room too on Thor’s deck for a couple of smaller cranes. It is powered by herculean engines, winches and the like.

“It is a very big piece of machinery,” said U.S. Coast Guardsman Michael Himes, spokesman for Unified Command.

Thor is in town to make minced meat, or steel stew, of the last two remaining gargantuan chunks of the Golden Ray. It arrived Thursday morning under tow by tugboat, sliding through the St. Simons Sound and then under the Sidney Lanier Bridge before docking on the East River at a dismantling site at 615 Bay St. in Brunswick. There it will take part in reducing Section 5 and Section 4 to manageable hunks of scrap heap.

Section 5 was lifted from its half-submerged perch in the St. Simons Sound and towed last month via dry dock barge to a mooring at the Bay Street site. Section 4 remains in the water between Jekyll and St. Simons Island, suspended in the arching rafters of the 255-foot-tall twin-hulled VB 10,000 crane vessel. It is the last visible remnant of the Golden Ray.

Salvage crews are currently constructing a reinforced cradle on the deck of the dry dock barge that eventually will haul Section 4 to the Bay Street site.

Section 4 weighs more than 4,000 metric tons and Section 5 weighs more than 3,000 metric tons. Lying on their port sides, both sections stretch to 135 feet up.

The 656 foot long vessel Golden Ray overturned in the St. Simons Sound on Sept. 8, 2019, while heading to sea with a cargo of 4,161 vehicles. Texas-based T&T Salvage commenced in November with a plan to employ the VB 10,000 and a massive cutting chain to rip the shipwreck into eight sections for removal.

The six previous sections have been shipped whole via barge to Modern American Recycling Services (MARS) facility in Gibson, La.

In fact, Section 3 and Section 6 departed local waters this week for MARS, both sections secured to the deck of the 400-foot-long barge Julie B. The journey to the Louisiana Gulf Coast is expected to take about 10 days.

Section 4 and Section 5 comprised the Golden Ray’s midship and suffered significant damage when the port side impacted the sand bar during the capsizing. The sections are too damaged to safely withstand the transport whole.

MARS crews at the Bay Street site will cut up each section into pieces of several hundred tons each.

Like a kid playing with blocks, Thor will hoist each of the severed chunks and load them into the open holds of container barges. The accumulated wreckage then will be transported to MARS.

“This will enable...crews to work at a schedule that is prioritized for getting those sections lifted and transloaded out of here in an expedited manner,” Himes said. “They have a whole crew who specialize in the kind of welding needed to cut those sections into smaller pieces. Thor is providing living quarters and assisting with every step along the way.”

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