Golden Ray rescue workhorse stranded in Mexico | Local News

After weathering a raging hell and wearing down thousands upon thousands of feet of metal rigging in a year-long pitched battle with the wrecked Golden Ray, the VB 10,000 rode away victorious late last year from the St. Simons Sound.

And then the colossal 255-foot-tall crane ship got stuck in the sand off the coast of Mexico.

The VB 10,000 separated from its trailers on Jan. 3, according to FleetMon.com, an online marine news publication. The ship drifted and ran aground about 300 meters off Cuidad del Carmen, near the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. The VB 10,000 was en route directly from here to a mission in the Ku-Maloob-Zaap offshore oil fields in Mexico, according to FleetMon.com.

The VB 10,000 remained in the same position off Cuidad del Carmen on Monday, according to marinetraffic.com.

The double-hulled VB 10,000 has become a staple on the waters between Jekyll and St. Simons Islands, its arching crisscrossing of bright yellow steel beams dominating the horizon overhead. The largest vessel of its type in US waters, VB 10,000 arrived in October 2020 and began early the following month with the Herculean task of shearing the half-submerged Golden Ray into eight sections to remove her from the Strait of St.Simons.

With its pulley system, wire rigging and powerful winches, the VB 10,000 straddled the wreck and propelled a massive anchor chain that passed through the wreck’s steel hull and 12 interior decks to complete each chopped off. The VB 10,000 then hoisted each section onto a barge for removal from St. Simons Sound. Each section weighed several thousand tons.

The task, however, proved to be arduous. Thousands of feet of metal rigging have worn away from the stress; entire coils had to be replaced. The thick anchor chain often broke. The structure’s pulleys have also worn out under stress, with some being replaced or refitted. Then there was the conflagration of May 14, when a fire started by a welder’s torch and fueled by hundreds of vehicles in the wreckage’s hold engulfed the VB 10,000 in towering flames.

After retiring for repairs and parts replacement, VB 10,000 was back straddling the wreckage and cut it again in June. The last section was hoisted and pulled from the sound on October 25.

Large crowds turned out at the St. Simons pier and along the waterfront on November 2 to see the VB 10,000 depart as it left localized waters en route to its new assignment in Mexico.

Although quite maneuverable with four 1,000 horsepower engines, the crane ship travels under tow on long voyages. Her hulls 279 feet long; the catamaran-type vessel is 304 feet hull-to-hull.

The VB 10,000 can accommodate up to 50 crew, but was unoccupied when it separated from the trailers and ran aground.

The VB 10,000 is owned by the Versabar company and is used primarily by Texas-based T&T Salvage, which performed the Golden Ray salvage. Several attempts by The News to contact representatives of T&T or Versabar were unsuccessful.

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