Beachgoers see odd giant structure float by Palm Beach County’s coast

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It appeared on the horizon last week like a massive floating ERECTOR Set, or golden arches for the world’s largest McDonald’s or a seaworthy amusement park ride.

One spectator who watched it glide by Palm Beach County’s coast Wednesday compared it to the Sydney Opera House. An Instagram user pondered aliens.

For anyone living near St. Simons Sound, Georgia, the maritime behemoth with two soaring trusses on twin flat-bottomed boats has been an all too familiar sight, and many cheered when it sailed away Nov. 1.

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The unique vessel seen by an unknown number of Palm Beach County beachgoers and coastal residents is the VB-10,000 – a hulking catamaran-style heavy-lifting barge with four independent cranes that had been working for a year to remove the 656-foot-long Golden Ray cargo ship that capsized in the sound in September 2019. The Golden Ray was carrying 4,200 vehicles.

The VB-10,000’s job was to cut the ship into eight pieces so sections could be hauled away, according to the First Coast News. The final cut began near the end of August in a dismantling and salvage project beset by equipment failures, oil spills, fire, delays for tropical cyclones and COVID-19.

“After nearly a year, it has finally finished that job and is returning to the Gulf of Mexico where it is used in the offshore energy sector,” said Peter Birks, an editor with Insurance Marine News. “Presumably you caught it while it was en route from Georgia to either its next job in the Gulf of Mexico, or, more likely, a temporary anchorage at one of the Texas ports.”

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At about 250 feet tall – more than 20 stories high – the machine was easily spotted from the South Florida coast.

The Versabar 10,000 is a one-of-a-kind machine built retrieve toppled oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina. It was spotted off of Palm Beach on Thursday, Nov. 4 2021. Credit: Friends of Palm Beach

The Versabar 10,000 is a one-of-a-kind machine built retrieve toppled oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina. It was spotted off of Palm Beach on Thursday, Nov. 4 2021. Credit: Friends of Palm Beach

Port of Palm Beach public information officer Yaremi Farinas fielded questions from curious beachgoers but said she did not know where the VB-10,000 was headed as it didn’t stop in port.

The machine was built by the company Versabar to help dismantle offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that were toppled by Hurricane Katrina. Versabar’s website says it is the largest lift vessel built in the U.S. and can lift 7,500 tons.

Kimberly Miller is a veteran journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network of Florida. She covers weather, climate and the environment and has a certificate in Weather Forecasting from Penn State. Contact Kim at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: A giant salvage machine called the VB-10,000 showed up off Palm Beach



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