ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The removal of the Golden Ray, the overturned cargo ship in the St. Simons Sound, was temporarily delayed after a chain broke on Saturday while crews were trying to dismantle the 656-foot vessel loaded with vehicles.
According to the St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command, the VB-10000 heavy-lifting crane began cutting into the bow section of the ship at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. But just 25 hours into the operation, the cutting chain broke.
Crews were able to retrieve and repair the broken link on the chain soon after. They also inspected the chain for any additional weaknesses.
The vessel was supposed to be cut into eight pieces in a 7-day process, taking 24 hours for each cut. However, that was only if the dismantling went according to schedule.
In a statement, Deputy Incident Commander Tom Wiker of Gallagher Marine Systems said, “The cutting process was carefully engineered and modeled, but it remains a highly complex operation. This is the first of seven cuts. During each cut we will continue fine-tuning our cutting parameters, including speed and tension of the chain, to improve its efficiency.” He added, “Though the cut is taking longer than expected, we’re gaining valuable knowledge that will guide the rest of this operation.”
The Unified Command said crews resumed cutting operations not long after.
Officials also increased the 150-yard safety zone around the Environmental Protection Barrier to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The UC advises mariners and drones to steer clear of the perimeter.