There is a thread about this in maritime news
Salvage plans?=Alaska Rain;92527]ANCHORAGE, AK - The Unified Command reports that Kulluk grounded at approximately 9:00 p.m. AK time on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island. The crew of the tug Alert was ordered to separate from the Kulluk at 8:15 pm to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.
From a local tv station...
How did the Alert reestablish the tow.? What caused the engine failure on the Aiviq? What about the decision to tow in that weather? That route? Was the tow gear adequate?
There is a thread about this in maritime news
For more information contact:
voice: (907) 433-3417
Unified Command Update #13
Unified Command Update #13
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
January 1, 2013
Unified Command Update #13
The tug Alert intentionally disconnected from the Kulluk at 8:10 p.m. on December 31, 2012, to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.
The Kulluk grounded at 8:48 p.m. on December 31, 2012 on Sitkalidak Island on the northern shore of Ocean Bay at a depth of about 32 to 48 feet.
The Kulluk is currently situated at:
Latitude: 57˚ -05.4N
Longitude: 153˚ -06.4W
The Kulluk has approximately 139,000 gallons of ultra low sulfur diesel on board. Equipment aboard the Kulluk is estimated to have about 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid.
The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter overflight detected no visible sheen.
There are no residents on Sitkalidak Island. The nearest town is Old Harbor, which is located on the opposite side of Kodiak Island from where the Kulluk is grounded.
More than 250 people are actively involved in the response efforts.
There have been three minor injuries associated with the incident. All personnel have returned to duty.
All media inquiries should be directed to the Unified Command Joint Information Center Media Line at (907) 433-3417.
Updates about the response efforts can be found at www.kullukresponse.com.
Say good-bye to drilling off the North Slope for another 20 years and everybody forgets this fiasco.
I wonder who will be blamed and who will be "corrected" as Delbert Grady used to say.
Anybody want to buy a slightly used ice capable AHTS? Only used once. Buyer must clean the fuel tanks himself.
It's interesting that a Coast Guard spokesman is defending the route of the tow.The Kulluk left Dutch Harbor the afternoon of Dec. 21 under tow by the Aiviq, headed to the Seattle area for off-season maintenance. The weather forecast for the next few days was typical, even a bit tame, for winter along the Aleutian chain and into the Gulf of Alaska: Winds of 17 to 35 mph, seas of 7 to 15 feet.
“Toward Kodiak Island, there was nothing of real significance,” said Sam Albanese, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “It was a pretty benign forecast.”
But by the afternoon of Dec. 25, the outlook had shifted from a prediction of more gale-force winds to a near storm at sea with winds topping 50 mph, he said.
And that’s what hit the Kulluk and the Aiviq last week.
By Saturday night, the winds were near hurricane force, the Coast Guard said.
Still, traffic along the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Alaska that connect Asia to North America continued during the heavy seas and storm, the Coast Guard’s Mosley said.
“We have ships coming through this area daily,” he said.
Over the past week or so, no ship captains alerted the Coast Guard that they were diverting course along the Aleutians or around Kodiak Island to avoid the rough seas take refuge in a safe harbor, he said. Ships typically keep the Coast Guard posted if they detour.
As far as second guessing, I think questions about the tow, the route and so forth are fair game. Attempts to conflate, for example, the Alert's efforts with Shell's decisions and so forth remind me of the tall ship guy's defending the Bounty's voyage on the Bounty thread.
I'm no towing expert but I'm no "arm-chair sailor' either. When I go to sea I fully understand that I am responsible for the outcome and I've been "second-guessed" more times then I'd like to admit.
tugsailor (January 1st, 2013)
FROM NEW YORK TIMES
Breakaway Oil Rig, Filled With Fuel, Runs Aground
By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Published: January 1, 2013
An enormous Shell Oil offshore drilling rig ran aground on an island in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday night after it broke free from tow ships in rough seas, officials said.
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Petty Officer 1St Class Sara Francis/United States Coast Guard, via Associated Press
The Kulluk is one of two rigs that Shell has used to drill test wells off the North Slope of Alaska as part of the company’s ambitious and expensive effort to open Arctic waters to oil production.
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The rig, the Kulluk, which was used for test drilling in the Arctic last summer, is carrying about 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid, the officials said.
A Coast Guard helicopter flew over the rig after the grounding at 8:48 p.m. and “detected no visible sheen,” said Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for a unified command of officials from Shell, Alaskan state agencies and other groups that has been directing the response since the troubles with the rig began last Thursday.
Ms. Sinclair said that more overflights were planned after daybreak on Tuesday, and that the unified command would be monitoring the fuel situation as it planned further actions. “The focus will be around salvage,” she said.
The 266-foot diameter rig ran aground on the east coast of Sitkalidak Island, an uninhabited island that is separated by the Sitkalidak Strait from the far larger Kodiak Island to the west. The nearest town, Old Harbor, is across the strait on Kodiak Island; it has a population of about 200 people.
Ms. Sinclair said the coast where the Kulluk ran aground has a combination of rocky and sandy terrain.
Earlier Monday, a Shell spokesman had said that the rig had been brought under control after towlines were reconnected to two ships during a break in what had been several days of extremely rough seas and high winds.
But late Monday afternoon the line from one of the ships, the Aiviq, became separated. Then several hours later, the other ship, the Alert, was ordered to disconnect its towline, out of concern for the safety of the ship’s nine-person crew. At the time, Ms. Sinclair said, swells were as high as 35 feet and winds were gusting up to 65 miles an hour.
The Kulluk, one of two rigs that Shell used to drill test wells off the North Slope of Alaska as part of the company’s ambitious and expensive effort to open Arctic waters to oil production, was being towed by the Aiviq to a Seattle shipyard for off-season maintenance when the towline initially separated during a storm on Thursday.
The Aiviq then lost power, and other support ships and a Coast Guard cutter were brought in to help with engine repairs and to reconnect towlines to the Kulluk, which does not have its own propulsion system. The 18 workers aboard the rig were evacuated by Coast Guard helicopters on Saturday.
Over the weekend, support crews struggled in 25-foot swells to reconnect towlines, succeeding several times. But each time the lines separated again, leaving the rig in danger of drifting toward land.
The Kulluk, which was built in Japan in 1983 and upgraded over the past six years at a cost of $292 million, is designed for icy conditions in the Arctic. It can drill in up to 400 feet of water and up to 20,000 feet deep. During drilling season it carries a crew of about 140 people, Mr. Smith said.
Shell has spent six years and more than $4 billion in its effort to drill in Arctic waters, one of the last untapped oil-producing regions in the United States. But the effort has faced regulatory hurdles and opposition from American Indian and environmental groups.
Last summer, the Kulluk drilled a shallow test well in the Beaufort Sea while another rig drilled a similar hole in the Chukchi Sea to the west.
But Shell announced in September that it would be forced to delay further drilling until this year after a specialized piece of equipment designed to contain oil from a spill was damaged in a testing accident.
The episode was one of a number of setbacks for the Arctic drilling program last year.
Shell now says it hopes to drill five exploratory wells in the region during the 2013 drilling season, which begins in mid-July.
FROM THE DAILY KOS
Shell Catastrophe--Drill Rig Grounded in Storm in Alaska
9 Comments / 9 New
Latest tweet from Shell Alaska:
Unified Command Update #12: Kulluk grounded, vessel condition not yet confirmed: http://j.mp/...
Earlier ominous tweet when drill rig broke loose (again) four miles from land in 36 foot seas and 60 plus knot winds. Imagine these words in future arctic emergency.
@Shell_Alaska's Susan Childs: "At this time the weather condition does not allow us to move response equipment."
Latest updates at Anchorage Daily News here:
Update, 11:05 p.m.:
The Shell drill rig Kulluk grounded off Kodiak Island at about 9 p.m., according to the Coast Guard.
The vessel, which again broke loose earlier Monday, is in a rocky area on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, officials said at a news briefing late Monday.
Royal Dutch Shell's Kulluk drilling rig, re-secured to two ships with towlines early Monday, broke loose once again on Monday evening and was adrift in rough seas about four miles from land toward the south end of Kodiak Island, according to a written statement from a command team that includes Shell and the Coast Guard.
Monday night's development, announced around 8:30 p.m., was the worst yet in a crisis that began Thursday night when the $290 million, 266-foot-diameter Kulluk first lost a towline after the mechanical failure of a shackle used to connect it to the Shell-contracted ship, the Aiviq. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith estimated the rig lost its tow lines most recently sometime before 8 p.m...
12:34 AM PT: Shell tweets. "A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so. http://j.mp/...
12:45 AM PT: Unified Command Release No. 12:
"Anchorage, Alaska – The Unified Command reports that Kulluk grounded at approximately 9 p.m., Alaska time on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island. The crew of the tug Alert was ordered to separate from the Kulluk at 8:15 p.m. to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.
“The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge. We have more than 250 people actively involved in the response efforts,” said Susan Childs, Incident Commander, Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”
There were no personnel aboard the Kulluk at the time of grounding, and no injuries have been reported.
There is reportedly up to 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulpher diesel on board the Kulluk and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid. The condition of the vessel has not yet been confirmed and overflights are scheduled pending weather conditions. Unified Command, using a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft, plans to conduct a survey to assess the situation at first light. A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so."
Originally posted to akmk on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 12:28 AM PST.
Also republished by Gulf Watchers Group.
From PROGRESSIVE ALASKA
Spreading the word about the growing presence of progressive Alaskans and their powerful ideas on the web
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I Almost Lose It at Unified Command Press Conference
Kulluk in better days
At the Unified Command's Press Conference that convened at 10:45 pm tonight, where they announced the wreck of Shell Alaska's drilling rig Kulluk, I almost lost it.
All I asked was what the coordinates in longitude and latitude to the nearest minute of the wreck are.
Nobody had an answer.
They had known for about two hours of the grounding, and described it as being grounded on Kodiak Island, rather than on Sitkalidak Island. They described how the Crowley tug Alert had let go its line at an opportune time to allow the rig some sort of soft landing.
The so-called Unified Command is as pathetic as Shell Alaska's 2012 drilling season has been. The Arctic Challenger is being reinvented in Bellingham. The Noble Discoverer is impounded in Seward. And the Kulluk is rapidly being converted to future razor blades on the rocks of Alaska's Gulf Coast.
That's what I wanted to say when told that someone would get back to me with the location coordinates. Instead, I thanked them.
Happy New Year, Shell Alaska.
Posted by Philip Munger at 12:07 AM
From the HUFFINGTON POST
Shell Drill Ship, The Kulluk, Grounds Off Alaska
Reuters | Posted: 01/01/2013 5:31 am EST | Updated: 01/01/2013 9:42 am EST
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By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan 1 (Reuters) - A large drill ship belonging to oil major Shell ran aground off Alaska on Monday night after drifting in stormy weather, company and government officials said.
The ship, the Kulluk, broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven, within hours, to rocks just off Kodiak Island, where it grounded at about 9 p.m. Alaska time, officials said.
The 18-member crew had been evacuated by the Coast Guard late Saturday because of risks from the ongoing storm.
With winds reported at up to 60 miles an hour and Gulf of Alaska seas of up to 35 feet, responders were unable to keep the ship from grounding, said Coast Guard Commander Shane Montoya, the leader of the incident command team.
"We are now entering into the salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event," Montoya told a news conference late on Monday night in Anchorage.
There is no known spill and no reports of damage yet, but the Kulluk has about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board, Montoya said.
The grounding of the Kulluk, a conical, Arctic-class drill ship weighing nearly 28,000 gross tons, is a blow to Shell's $4.5 billion offshore programme in Alaska.
Shell's plan to convert the area in to a major new oil frontier has alarmed environmentalists and many Alaska Natives but excited industry supporters.
Environmentalists and Native opponents say the drilling program threatens a fragile region that is already being battered by rapid climate change.
"Shell and its contractors are no match for Alaska's weather and sea conditions either during drilling operations or during transit," Lois Epstein, Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society, said in an email.
"Shell's costly drilling experiment in the Arctic Ocean needs to be stopped by the federal government or by Shell itself given the unacceptably high risks it poses to both humans and the environment."
The Kulluk's woes began on Friday, when the Shell ship towing it south experienced a mechanical failure and lost its connection to the drill vessel.
That ship, the Aivik, was reattached to the Kulluk early on Monday morning, as was a tug sent to the scene by the operator of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. But the Aivik lost its link Monday afternoon, and the tug's crew could only try to guide the drill ship to a position where, if it grounded, "it would have the least amount of impact to the environment," Montoya said.
The Kulluk was used by Shell in September and October to drill a prospect in the Beaufort Sea. It was being taken to Seattle for the off-season when the problems began on Friday.
Susan Childs, emergency incident commander for Shell, held out hope that a significant spill from the drill ship was unlikely.
"The unique design of the Kulluk means the diesel fuel tanks are isolated in the center in the vessel and encased in very heavy steel," she told the news conference.
Shell is waiting for weather to moderate "to begin a complete assessment of the Kulluk," she said. "We hope to ultimately recover the Kulluk with minimal or no damage to the environment."
(MY PERSONAL COMMENT: THESE SHELL SPOKESPEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHEN TO STOP MAKING RIDICULOUS STATEMENTS THAT ONLY FURTHER UNDERMINE SHELL'S CREDIBILITY)
The Kulluk was built in 1983 and had been slated to be scrapped before Shell bought it in 2005. The company has spent $292 million since then to upgrade the vessel.
Shell's Arctic campaign has been bedevilled by problems. A second drill ship, the Discoverer, was briefly detained in December by the Coast Guard in Seward, Alaska, because of safety concerns. A mandatory oil-containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, failed for months to meet Coast Guard requirements for seaworthiness and a ship mishap resulted in damage to a critical piece of equipment intended to cap a blown well.
shell kulluk In this photo provided by the United States Coast Guard, the tugs Aiviq and Nanuq tow the mobile drilling unit Kulluk while a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Kodiak transports crew members on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska.
Channel 2 NEWS
By Neil Torquiano Channel 2 News
1:42 a.m. AKST, January 1, 2013
The Shell drill unit, Kulluk, ran aground New Year's Eve near Kodiak, after failed attempts to tow the vessel in a fierce storm, according to the Unified Command responding to the scene.
The Coast Guard said the Kulluk grounded around 9 p.m. Monday on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island in Ocean Bay.
The Unified Command said it ordered the tug Alert to separate from the unmanned Kulluk around 8:15 p.m. for the safety of the nine crew members on the Alert.
Around 4:40 p.m., the Aiviq, a vessel used to tow the Kulluk, lost its tow line about 10 to 15 miles away from the position where the Kulluk grounded.
The drill unit has about 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid.
"The unique design of the Kulluk means the diesel fuel tanks are isolated in the center of the vessell and encased in heavy steel," said Incident Commander Susan Childs.
Since Thursday, there have been repeated attempts to tow the Kulluk to safe harbor after the Aiviq lost its tow line due to weather conditions.
On Friday, a Unified Command was set-up with over 200 members, which include the Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and other federal, state, local, and tribal partners working with the Royal Dutch Shell and Edison Chouest Offshore.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard evacuated the Kulluk of its 18 crew members due to weather safety concerns.
“The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge.” said Susan Childs, Incident Commander, Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”
A Coast Guard aircraft will survey the situation at first light and a response team will be be sent when it is safe to do so.
The condition of the Kulluk was unclear Monday night and crews will fly over depending on weather conditions.
The Kulluk was a drill ship used by Shell for exploratory oil operations in the Beaufort Sea earlier this year.
Shell also used the Noble Discoverer, another drill ship, in the Chukchi Sea, and it was reported last week that the Coast Guard cited it for crew safety and pollution-equipment violations during a November port call in Seward.
Contact Neil Torquiano
From FUEL FIX
Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig runs aground near Alaskan island
Posted on January 1, 2013 at 4:26 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Accidents, Alaska, arctic
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoists crew members from the Shell's mobile drilling unit Kulluk in 15- to 20-foot seas 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. (Photo: Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis)
Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig ran aground Monday night near Alaska’s Kodiak Island after a five-day fight to tow the vessel through a fierce storm and 70-mph winds.
No one was on board the 29-year-old conical drilling unit when it hit rocks on the southeast side of the uninhabited Sitkalidak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, and a powerful tugboat pulling the rig disconnected under Coast Guard orders around 45 minutes before the accident.
Although officials said there were no reports of any spill and a Coast Guard overflight revealed no sheen, about 139,000 gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel and 12,000 gallons of combined lubrication oil and hydraulic fluid are on board the Kulluk.
Overflights are scheduled for Tuesday to assess the situation, and officials plan to send salvagers to the unit to investigate its integrity.
“The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge. We have more than 250 people actively involved in the response efforts,” said Susan Childs, the incident commander with Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”
Two Shell-contracted tugboats, including the Alert and the Aiviq had been tugging the Kulluk to Port Hobron on the southeast side of Kodiak Island to weather the fierce storm in the Gulf of Alaska. The movement was timed to take advantage of a break in the turbulent weather that has battered the Kulluk and response boats since Thursday, when the Aiviq first lost its tow line to the rig and its four engines failed.
Since then, no fewer than four attempts to keep tow lines tethered to the Kulluk — both to keep it from drifting and to move it to safe harbor — have broken.
The Kulluk ultimately grounded around 8:48 p.m. Alaska Standard Time Monday night, about four hours after the Aiviq separated from the vessel. At 8:10 p.m., the unified command — a formal structure involving Shell, the Coast Guard and state, local and other partners — ordered the Alert to release its tow line, out of concern for the nine crew members aboard that vessel.
Once the Aiviq’s tow line separated, officials said, grounding was a certainty; at that point, the Alert crew worked to steer the rig to a location where environmental damage would be minimal.
The Kulluk is now located on the northern shore of Ocean Bay in water depths of about 32 to 48 feet. The island itself is uninhabited, and the nearest town is Old Harbor, located on the opposite side of Kodiak Island from where the Kulluk is grounded.
In a hastily called news conference, Shell and Coast Guard officials stressed that the double-hulled Kulluk is not on land, even as bad weather prevented them from immediately moving more response vessels to the site.
“At this time, the weather condition does not allow us to move response equipment,” Childs said.
Lois Epstein, a professional engineer and the director of The Wilderness Society’s Arctic Program, said the episode shows that Shell’s fleet was unable to overcome the fierce weather so common in Alaskan and Arctic waters.
“In a demonstration of the power of Alaska’s fierce weather and seas, tugboats were unable to prevent Shell’s massive, $290 million Beaufort Sea drilling rig from grounding near Kodiak Island,” Epstein said. While it’s fortunate “there was no loss of life,” the incident proves that “Shell and its contractors are no match for Alaska’s weather and sea conditions, either during drilling operations or during transit.”
Before problems began on Thursday, Shell had been towing the Kulluk south to a Seattle shipyard for maintenance, roughly two months after using the drilling rig to bore the first half of an exploratory oil well in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska.
A conical drilling unit without its own propulsion engines, the Kulluk spent more than a dozen years hibernating in Canada before Shell snapped it up for its new Arctic venture and spent roughly $300 million upgrading the rig. The vessel, which looks like a giant upside down umbrella, is designed to be lifted by floating ice, which can then break under the force of its pointed hull.
It is unclear whether the vessel can be salvaged or how it will weather the Gulf of Alaska storm while grounded.
Shell has separately used the drillship Noble Discoverer bore the first half of an exploratory well in the Chukchi Sea. That drillship is now near Seward, after having propulsion problems and being ordered by the Coast Guard to repair safety system and pollution-control system deficiencies. Separately, a fire broke out in the rig stack on the Discoverer while it was in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in mid November.
Both episodes provide fresh fodder to offshore drilling foes who insist that Arctic oil exploration is too risky.
The most recent incident with the Kulluk has unfolded close to a Coast Guard station in Kodiak, facilitating a quick response. In the past five days, the Coast Guard has deployed helicopters, C-130 aircraft and at least two cutters to assist the Kulluk and Shell’s contracted ships. The Coast Guard also evacuated 18 crew members from the Kulluk.
Meanwhile, Shell has deployed its own armada of contracted response vessels.
Roughly 250 people have been huddled in an Anchorage office building planning the response, speaking with crews of the response vessels and poring over weather reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Much of Sunday and Monday, officials had been scrutinizing potential safe harbors for the Kulluk and the rescue ships traveling with it. At one point, the Shell-contracted ship MV Guardsman was sent north to do reconnaissance on potential sites, including small ports as well as sheltered bays.
The hope had been to make it to safe harbor before winds and waves picked up again.
State environmental officials are acutely aware of the wildlife and fisheries in the region. The south side of Kodiak Island includes critical habitat for endangered Steller sea lions.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, praised “the heroism displayed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Shell personnel and other responders.”
“The focus now needs to be on securing the Kulluk and protecting local residents and the environment from potential fuel spills,” Murkowski said.
Drilling rig set to weather fierce storm in small Alaska port
Tow line breaks as drill rig towed to safe harbor
Coast Guard evacuates 18 from drilling rig
Coast Guard assisting drilling rig stranded near Alaska
Jennifer A. Dlouhy
Jennifer A. Dlouhy
Jennifer A. Dlouhy covers energy policy and other issues for The Houston Chronicle and other Hearst Newspapers from Washington, D.C. Previously, she reported on legal affairs for Congressional Quarterly. She also has worked at The Beaumont Enterprise, The San Antonio Express-News and other newspapers. Jennifer enjoys cooking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and infant son.