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Shell Oil has run into a number of problems with its Arctic drilling plans over the last few days. The Coast Guard refused to certify its oil spill containment barge as it stands, the EPA is reviewing the Noble Discoverer drill rig's air permits -- and now, there may be damage to the rig itself.
The Noble Discoverer appears to have run aground in Unalaska on Saturday afternoon.
Despite rain and 35-knot winds, more than a dozen residents came to Airport Beach to watch the Shell's contract tugboat Lauren Foss straining to pull the rig back out to sea.
Longshoreman David Howard was one of the onlookers. Howard says he noticed something wrong with the 500-foot rig earlier in the afternoon.
“I’m just like anybody else driving by, you see it getting closer and closer, you know it’s dragging anchor and that they probably ought to get a tug on it.”
Howard says he thinks the Shell crew got lucky.
"Fortunately, where it got grounded, it was pretty soft in here," he says. "There's not a big bunch of sharp rocks out there. It's fortunate to have gone up here rather than out on the S-curves, where there's a lot of rocky areas that might compromise the hull."
Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith says the company has activated a dive team to inspect the hull, which could help determine whether the ship actually touched bottom.
Shell is also evaluating the Noble Discoverer's mooring system to determine how the vessel moved toward shore, he says. But Smith did not say that the ship had run aground.
"Today, while moored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast," he says.
The Coast Guard is also investigating the incident.
The Noble Discoverer has been in Unalaska since last Saturday, along with a flotilla of support vessels. It's supposed to begin drilling in the Chukchi Sea next month.
oh there is so much I would say at such a moment as this but only will ask which genious of a master was aboard at the time?
ah such a fine display of skills and local knowledge. I have to wonder if the captain had ever been in Dutch before?
Good God, this is the last kind of publicity they need. Maybe Lucy Lawless sabotaged the anchor?
Originally Posted by c.captain
Doubtful, since not that many have.
The photo is self explanatory
Oops, guess everyone was asleep.
Oh come on!!! Wtf!?!?
I'll say no more at present...Shell offshore drilling vessel Noble Discoverer drifts near shore in Unalaska
Alaska Dispatch | Jul 14, 2012
Royal Dutch Shell's hopes to drill in Alaska's Arctic this summer have been hitting some hurdles lately, with potential problems arising with air permits, a hiccup over an oil-spill containment barge docked in Washington state and now, the drill ship Noble Discoverer came unexpectedly close to shore Saturday in Unalaska Bay on its eventual trek to the Arctic.
It was not immediately clear if the vessel had actually run aground.
Unalaska radio station KUCB reports that the Noble Discoverer began drifting toward shore sometime Saturday afternoon. A longshoreman quoted in the story said that he observed the vessel as neared shore and appeared to be dragging its anchor.
KUCB reported that the Noble Discoverer "appears to have run aground in Unalaska on Saturday afternoon," and the Dutch Harbor Telegraph said that the vessel bumped into the beach.
However, the official report from the Coast Guard Saturday night estimated the vessel only came within 100 yards of shore, according to a spokeswoman. Photos posted to KUCB's Facebook page from Unalaska locals would seem to indicate the vessel came closer than that.
Shell Spokesman Curtis Smith, in a statement, also didn't say that the ship ran aground, but rather "stopped very near the coast," before it had to be pulled back out by a tug.
Below is Smith's full statement:
Today, while moored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast. One of Shell's vessels, the Lauren Foss, then safely towed the Discoverer to its prior mooring position, and the ship’s engines were started. Shell personnel are now evaluating the ship’s mooring system to determine why the vessel moved closer to shore. As a precaution, we have activated a dive team to inspect the drill ship.
Smith added that inspection was to begin immediately. The Coast Guard is also looking into the incident.
According to U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sarah Francis, the dive team is expected to arrive in Dutch Harbor within the next day or so.
"We are not aware of any injuries, pollution, or damage to the vessel at this time," Francis said.
She said that the Noble Discoverer drifted to about 175 yards offshore in the vicinity of Hog Island, in an area that she understood to have a soft seabed. The official report from the Dutch Harbor Command Center later revised that estimate to 100 yards from shore.
The wind was blowing at about 35 mph, which may have contributed to the anchor coming dislodged, she said.
"We received a report at about 5:18 p.m. that the anchor let go and they were traveling toward shore," Francis said. "They took quick action with the assistance of tugs to redirect and move the vessel away from shore."
She added that it didn't immediately appear that the vessel had run aground, and personnel aboard the ship didn't report feeling any impact. She said that the Coast Guard can now see the vessel from the office in Dutch Harbor, and would continue to monitor the situation.
She said that the vessel is now anchored further offshore, and may move to the Coast Guard pier for the inspection to take place.
more pics showing the ass of the DISCO right on top of the beach
now the question remains, is the rudder bent? How can it not be?
I'm not a deck guy so maybe I'm confused. When you set anchor don't you usually use VRM or EBL on your radar to judge distance from a fixed object. Isn't this an easy way to judge how you will swing or if you are dragging. I can't believe no one on the bridge didn't notice they were dragging. They left with an armada you mean to tell me they didn't have one towing vessel on standby. There has to be more to it than somebody just had an "oopsie". It baffles me that there could be this sort of breakdown in just basic seamanship. They also had to know that every friggin anti oil hippie in the world is watching them.