The end to the Golden Ray wreck removal is finally in sight with the last of seven cuts completed over the weekend near Brunswick, Georgia.
The St. Simons Sound Incident Response says the cut to separate sections four and five was completed Saturday, leaving the last two sections that will now need to be lifted onto a barge for eventual towing to a Louisiana recycling facility.
The latest official update said crews were preparing to lift and stow Section Five onto a dry-dock barge and, once the section is removed, engineers will begin to prepare Section Four, the final remaining section.
Section Four will then be lifted and stowed onto the Barge JULIE B, which left the Port of Mobile en route to Brunswick, Georgia last Thursday.
A dry-dock barge remains on-site as a contingency plan for stowing Section Four. Meanwhile, pollution response teams remain on-station to monitor for any oil or debris present around the perimeter of the Environmental Protection Barrier (EPB), which was constructed around the wreck in the early phases of the wreck removal operation. Shoreline survey teams continue routine assessments of Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and marsh areas in the vicinity of the wreck site.
The 656-foot car carrier Golden Ray was carrying over 4,000 vehicles when it capsized suddenly during a turn as it departed the Port of Brunswick on September 8, 2019 and came to rest on a sand bar.
The wreck removal officially began in May 2020 with the construction of the EPB. Wreck removal involved using the U.S.-flagged VB-10000, a heavy-list catamaran, to cut the wreck into eight sections for removal by barge. Cutting kicked off in November 2020.
The wreck removal has faced a number of significant setbacks including a Summer 2020 supsension due to COVID-19 and hurricane season, oil spills and a massive fire that burned through the inside of the wreck back in May. T&T Salvage has served as the lead salvage contractor.
National Transportation Safety Board in July opened the public docket from its investigation into the accident.
The Coast Guard is jointly conducting its own investigation with the NTSB, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal, representatives for Hyundai Glovis and G-Marine, and the Brunswick Bar Pilots Association. Findings from those investigations have not yet been released.