Capsized Cargo Ship in Georgia with 4,200 Cars Aboard Will Be Cut Into Pieces with a Giant Chain

Is anybody interested in half a new Hyundai?

cut up cargo ship lead
AP Images

In case you haven't kept up with the litany of recent automotive cargo ship disasters, the MV Golden Ray is a 656-foot-long car carrier built in 2017 at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea. Shortly after midnight on September 8th, 2019, it started to list as it departed Georgia's Port of Brunswick with a load of 4,200 new Hyundais and Kias and eventually capsized in shallow water.

Thankfully all 24 people on board were rescued by the Coast Guard, but the ship? It's still there, and after nearly a year, the salvage operation is about to begin, the Brunswick News reports. It involves a massive ship-cutting chain slicing through the entire vessel, cars and all, chopping it into smaller chunks that can be lifted onto barges and taken away. "We expect fires," the operation's director told the News.

And if you're wondering what a ship cutting chain looks like, you're in good company because I was previously pondering the exact same thing. It's pretty simple. A massive arch-shaped heavy lift vessel called the VB 10000 will park around the capsized ship, stretch a giant chain under it and start pulling back and forth as it twin winches lift slowly lift the chain. Sort of like a two-man saw, but for 650 foot-long cargo ships.

After it's cut up into eight pieces, the MV Golden Ray is going to be put onto barges and sent to Louisiana where it will be recycled. 

But it's not as simple as just showing up and sawing the ship apart. It's obviously still full of cars, primarily Kias and Hyundais that were bound for the Middle East, a number of which will inevitably fall out into the St. Simons Sound as the cutting chain does its thing. Underwater nets, oil containment booms and debris response teams have been set up to try and contain any errant cars or pollution, but as U.S. Coast Guard Commander Norm Witt told the Brunswick News, "We’ve known from the beginning that dismantling a ship of this size is going to be a messy proposition."

But don't think you can fire up the old Bassmaster and reel in a free Kia that's floating by. Hyundai Glovis, the owner of the ship, is planning to rescue as many cars as it can. But maybe if you show up they'll let you keep a piece of one of the cars that got sawed in half. A little keepsake to remember the day by. Probably not, though.

Correction: Wednesday, July 8, 2020 @ 5:15 pm ET: A source for this story incorrectly reported that the cut sections of the ship will be dumped at sea as artificial reefs. The U.S. Coast Guard has since confirmed that the pieces will be brought to a salvage yard for dismantling. The relevant text has been updated.

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