Giant team completes largest wreck removal operation in US history

One of the most complex wreck removals this century has finally been completed.

After more than two years, the remains of the Golden Ray car carrier are out of the Saint Simons Sound in Georgia, the largest wreck removal operation in the history of the United States, requiring more than 3m collective man-hours.

The ship was carrying 4,100 vehicles when it capsized near Brunswick in September 2019. The capsizing was caused by incorrect calculations about the vessel’s stability, the National Transportation Safety Board said last month.

The final section of the vessel, sawn into bits by a massive chain, was removed earlier this week. It will be sent to Louisiana to be recycled.

The complex project was a joint effort between TNT Salvage, the US Coast Guard and Gallagher Marine.

“Eight-foot tides, strong currents, severe weather, close proximity to the major shipping channel and an area surrounded by sensitive marsh habitat. And that was all before we realised we’d have to also deal with a worldwide pandemic,” Chris Graff, response director for Gallagher, commented on the difficulties faced in removing the giant vessel.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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