MV Golden Ray
|Name||MV Golden Ray|
|Port of registry||Majuro|
|Builder||Hyundai Mipo Dockyard|
|Laid down||23 December 2015|
|Launched||26 August 2016|
|Out of service||8 September 2019|
|Identification||IMO number: 9775816|
|Length||200 m (656 ft 2 in)|
|Beam||35.4 m (116 ft 2 in)|
|Speed||19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)|
The MV Golden Ray was a 200-metre (660 ft)-long car carrier that capsized on 8 September 2019 in St. Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick in Georgia, United States. She was eventually declared a total loss and was removed as scrap.
Golden Ray was built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea. Her keel was laid on 23 December 2015, and she was launched on 26 August 2016. She was delivered from the builder on 12 May 2017, and at the time of her capsizing was owned and operated by Hyundai Glovis. Golden Ray measured 71,118 gross tons and 20,995 deadweight tons, and was 200 metres (656 ft 2 in) long, with a beam of 35.4 metres (116 ft 2 in). She was powered by a single diesel engine that gave her a service speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph) via a single propeller, and had a capacity of up to 7,400 cars.
On 8 September 2019, the Golden Ray capsized within the Port of Brunswick's harbor, shortly after unberthing and proceeding towards the Port of Baltimore. The ship departed the dock in Brunswick shortly after midnight and had traveled for only 23 minutes when she started to list. The serious listing caused the port to close immediately. All 23 crewmen on board as well as an American maritime pilot survived, including three engineers who were in the ship's engine room at the time of the incident.
There was a rescue mission by the United States Coast Guard to find four of the 23 crew members that were missing. All were eventually rescued and appeared to be in good medical condition. The vessel was carrying 4,200 brand new Kia and Hyundai cars manufactured in Mexico, and vehicles made by other companies for delivery to the Middle East. At the time of her demise, the ship was carrying about 4,300 Kia, Chevrolet, GMC, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and Ram vehicles, according to a report from Car and Driver. The ship was on her way to Baltimore, Maryland at the time of her capsize.
The incident was mentioned as related to a sudden loss of stability, possibly due to cargo stowage and incorrect water ballasting. A Hyundai Glovis executive told the news media that "there was some kind of an internal fire that could not be controlled and then it capsized". A fire delayed the rescue of the last crew member. The National Transportation Safety Board agreed to assist in investigating the capsize, with two investigators assigned to the case.
A final NTSB report, adopted 26 August 2021, determined the cause of sinking to be a combination of factors. Incorrect figures had been entered in the ship's stability calculation program, which was used to determine the proper levels for ballast tanks, and there was no procedure to verify those calculations. This left the ship unstable as she made a sharp turn when exiting the channel. When the ship heeled to port, the open portside pilot door allowed water to enter; other watertight doors that were not properly closed also allowed flooding.
In November 2019, The New York Times quoted Fletcher Sams, the executive director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, a nonprofit that monitors pollution in Georgia's Altamaha River, describing “a concoction of contaminants” already found in the water that included gas and heavy bunker fuel that powered the ship, as well as gasoline, diesel and antifreeze from the vehicles that were being transported. As of mid-November 2019, it remained unknown how much had flowed into the sound. The discharge could have been limited to a small amount, but the oil and chemicals could have also washed into marshland and seeped into the sediment. Concern was also expressed about a new wave of contaminants from the capsized ship when she was cut up for salvage. Oil-coated grass and floating tarballs were observed around St. Simon's Sound and St. Simon's Island. On 1 August 2021, upon completion of the section six cut of the ship, a significant amount of oil began to leak. As a result, beach advisories were issued across the St Simon’s Sound and Jekyll Island area. Mitigation strategies were put in place in and around the environmental protection barrier to prevent further spreading of the oil. The barrier was originally put in place to protect marine life from the dismantling effort.
The ship had 24 fuel tanks, and all were almost full when she capsized. By 27 September, two of them had been pumped out and vents on the others were plugged. 15,500 US gallons (59,000 L; 12,900 imp gal) had been pumped out, of a total of 300,000 US gallons (1,100,000 L; 250,000 imp gal) believed to be on board. The port continued to operate through the salvage process, with some delays. The salvage operation was expected to take several months, and a team was sent to Chile to examine her sister ship, Silver Ray, to better understand the internal layout. There are twelve tanks near the engine room and twelve elsewhere on the ship. The salvage crews are monitoring for any pollution caused by leaks.
In October 2019, due to the fire, saltwater corrosion, and salvage costs, the Golden Ray was declared a total loss, and it was announced that the ship would be cut up in place and scrapped. Insurance losses on the ship are estimated at $70-80 million, and $80 million in her contents. The salvage work will be done by T&T Salvage utilizing the Versabar heavy lift vessel VB-10,000. On 13 December 2019, Coast Guard authorities confirmed that salvage workers had removed all the vessel's fuel.
On 20 January 2020, salvage workers had to cope with another fire on board the vessel. In February 2020, it was announced that the vessel would be cut into eight sections weighing between 2,700 and 4,100 tons that will then be removed on barges for disposal. In late October, the VB-10,000 heavy lift vessel arrived and was in position over the wreck on 27 October. Cutting operations began on 6 November 2020.
In late November 2020, the first cut was completed, removing the vessel's bow. It was expected to take 24 hours, but after delays caused by tropical storms, and a broken cutting chain, it took over 20 days. The stern was intended to be removed in the second cut.
On 22 January 2021, preparations for the separation of "Section 7" from the wreck were underway. Preparations were also underway for the cutting of "Section 2".
On 14 May 2021, the ship caught fire and crews were dispatched to extinguish the flames. The fire, which broke out while a section containing the engine room was being cut free, was extinguished the same day.
On 6 July 2021, "Section 3" was removed leaving two more cuts and three more sections before the project would be complete, which was still expected to take several more months.
The final cut was completed on 5 September 2021, and preparations were made to lift the two remaining sections and secure them to barges. The sections were held in the Port of Brunswick until they could be prepared for transport, which included removing all automobiles from the ship for processing at a local scrapyard. The ship sections themselves were then transported by barge to Gibson, Louisiana to be broken up. The final section of the wreck was removed on 25 October 2021 and the removal of the wreck was completed. The Coast Guard stated it was the largest wreck removal operation in United States history.
On 26 September 2021, the Coast Guard held a press conference, to announce the removal of the last section, and the completion of the largest removal of a capsized ship in U.S. history. This was a "a difficult and complicated operation." Experts from various nations were consulted. In addition to the ship herself, the salvage operation collected debris from the shore and water amounting to 9,500 pounds (4,300 kg) of debris not related to the ship, and 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of debris from the ship. This resulted in the nearby marshes, and beaches, being cleaner than they had been in many years.
- MV Höegh Osaka, a car carrier which nearly capsized in January 2015 under similar circumstances to the Golden Ray in the Solent, United Kingdom
- MV Tricolor, a sunken car carrier which was cut into pieces during salvage starting in 2003
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Rick Rojas (16 November 2019). "After a Giant Ship Goes Belly Up, Many Fear a Shoreline Is Next". The New York Times. St. Simons Sound. Archived from the original on 17 November 2019. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
The 656-foot vessel, called the Golden Ray, has been lying since early September off a slice of the Georgia coast specked with resorts and sprawling high-dollar homes. It has made for a jarring sight that has left many in the community unsettled by what it will ultimately mean for the economy and environment.
- Inclan, Lorena (27 September 2019). "2 of Golden Ray's 24 fuel tanks have been emptied, but there's still long way to go". Action News Jax. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- "Salvage crews give update on capsized cargo ship off Ga. coast". WTOC-TV. 27 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
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- Rhone, Nedra (9 November 2019). "Plan to cut up capsized cargo ship has roots in previous disasters". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
Natasha Chen (13 December 2019). "Crews have finished removing 320,000 gallons of oil and water from overturned cargo ship". CNN. Archived from the original on 1 August 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
Crews have completed removing fuel from the Golden Ray, a cargo ship that has been overturned in St. Simons Sound off Georgia since early September, the St. Simons Sound Unified Command said Thursday. More than 320,000 gallons of oil and water mixture were removed.
Jamarlo Phillips (20 January 2020). "1 of 4,200 cars catches fire on Golden Ray cargo ship". Action News Jax. St. Simons Sound. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
Action News Jax obtained video of smoke pouring out of the overturned cargo ship off St. Simons Island. It’s the latest drama to happen on the Golden Ray as crews work to remove the 656-foot ship from the water.
- Golden Ray Wreck Removal Plan Announced The Maritime Executive 5 February 2020
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- Hobbs, Larry. "VB 10,000 to commence cutting Golden Ray today". The Brunswick News. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
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- Staff. "Crews prepare to separate Section Seven of Golden Ray wreck". www.wtoc.com. WTOC11. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
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- Media related to IMO 9775816 at Wikimedia Commons
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