Salvage crews are ready to pull Shell’s grounded Kulluk drilling rig from the shores of Sitkalidak Island in Alaska.
An update Sunday night from the Kulluk incident Unified Command said that salvage teams successfully attached the main tow line to the Kulluk drilling unit today at approximately 4 p.m. Alaska Time and all elements are in place for towing operations to proceed. The Unified Command says that tension will be maintained on the line overnight, with recovery expected to begin Monday, January 7, although the Salvage Master has the discretion to initiate the tow earlier should favorable conditions occur overnight.
The proposed plan is that the Kulluk will be moved from its current grounded position in Ocean Bay to Kiliuda Bay, about 30 miles north.
The tow will include several vessels but will be led by the MV Aiviq, an anchor-handling tug that was with the Kulluk when it first broke free December 27 and eventually grounded.
The Unified Command says that a Coast Guard marine inspector is aboard the Aiviq and the Salvage Master is aboard the Kulluk and will remain their during the operation and transit to Kiliuda Bay. A 10-member salvage crew and one Shell representative will also remaind on board the Kulluk. The tug Alert, a Crowley tug that came to assist the recovery of the Kulluk prior to grounding, will also be connected to the Kulluk and assist in the tow.
Three Seattle-based ocean-going tugs, all with towing capabilities, will support the transit – Ocean Wave, Corbin Foss, and Lauren Foss.
The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley will escort the tow to Kiliuda Bay and maintain 500-yard radius safety zone around the Kulluk will follow the tow and remain in place once it is anchored in Kiliuda Bay.
As part of the recovery operations, onshore, nearshore and offshore oil spill assets, including response vessels, will be on-scene in Ocean Bay and during transit.
KULLUK TOW ROUTE