On 8 September 2019, the 71,000-tonne MV Golden Ray cargo ship made it a mere 23 minutes from Port of Brunswick harbour in Georgia before it started to list. The vessel capsized moments later, triggering a multi-day rescue effort.
All 23 crew members survived the ordeal, and although the cause has yet to be confirmed, although it’s thought the loss of stability was down to issues in the way the cargo was loaded. Predominantly, that cargo was made up cars - some 4200 of them, which had mostly come from Mexican factories and were on their way to the Middle East.
Over a year on, the recovery effort is finally underway, which involves cutting the 200-metre-long hull into eight sections to be removed by barge. The first section has been lopped off, giving us a clear view of the vehicular carnage going on below deck. The cars are apparently mostly Kias and Hyundais, although we can make out at least one Chevrolet pick-up.
The cutting is done with a 120-metre chain - it’s dragged back and forth over the hull, acting as a giant saw. Each of the links weighs 35kg and is 1.5 metres long. The VB-10000 Lift Vessel will haul each section clear of the water, allowing the barges to be positioned underneath. From here, some of the huge pieces will travel 1200 miles to Gibson, Louisiana, where they’ll be placed in a drydock while the cars are removed.
It took three weeks to slice off the front of the MV Golden Ray’s hull, during which time various pieces of debris - including car parts - were found washed up on the shoreline. Nearby beaches aren’t closed, but the local Coastal Health District has warned simmers and recreational fishers about the possible presence of oil. Although thousands of gallons of fuel were pumped out of the MV Golden Ray, some fuel still remains in the wreck.