Shell drill vessel towed to safety in Alaska
BY DAN JOLING Associated Press
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
1/08/13 at 7:04 AM
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel pulled from rocks off a remote Alaska island reached shelter Monday in a Kodiak Island bay.
The Kulluk was lifted off rocks at 10:10 p.m. Sunday. It reached its anchoring point about 12 hours later in Kiliuda Bay, where it was out of the worst of waves and wind in the Gulf of Alaska.
Shell incident commander Sean Churchfield said the vessel came off the grounding relatively easy under tow by the 360-foot Aiviq, the ship from which the Kulluk broke loose a week earlier.
Salvage crews reported swells of 15 feet, which diminished after the vessels reached protected waters.
The trip covered about 45 nautical miles at about 4 mph.
The Kulluk was attached to a second vessel, a tugboat, after it reached the bay.
A circular drill barge without its own propulsion, the Kulluk ran aground New Year's Eve in a powerful storm. It was being towed to Seattle for maintenance before it ran aground, but the lines that connected it to the towing ship broke. Four lines were re-attached between the Aiviq or other vessels, but they also broke in stormy weather.
On Monday, high winds and sea swells threatened to slow the barge's 30-mile journey to the bay. But the ship made steady progress.
The effort to move and salvage the drill ship involves more than 730 people, according to the Unified Command, which includes the Coast Guard, Shell and contractors involved in the tow and salvage operation. Eleven people were aboard the Kulluk during the operation - a salvage crew of 10 and one Shell representative.
The Kulluk is carrying more than 140,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid. A tug trailing the drill vessel used infrared equipment to watch for oil sheens and reported no petroleum discharge.
The salvage crew planned to examine the vessel again in the protected waters.
Shell reported superficial damage above the deck and seawater within that entered through open hatches. Water has knocked out regular and emergency generators, but portable generators were put on board last week.
"There will be some extensive examination of the rig," said Ignacio Gonzalez, a spokesman at the Kulluk incident command center.
The Kulluk is a circular barge 266 feet in diameter with a funnel-shaped, reinforced steel hull that allows it to operate in ice. One of two Shell vessels that drilled last year in the Arctic Ocean, it has a 160-foot derrick rising from its center.
Original Print Headline: Shell drill ship towed to safety in Alaskan bay
The Kulluk drill ship sits grounded last week beside a remote Alaska island. The vessel was pulled from the rocks late Sunday and reached sheltered waters Monday, according to its owner, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and the U.S. Coast Guard. ZACHARY PAINTER / U.S. Coast Guard / AP