A salvage team aboard the conical drilling unit Kulluk moves an emergency towing system delivered the Kulluk by a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. The Kulluk is located 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh.

A salvage team aboard the Kulluk moves an emergency towing system delivered by a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. US Coast Guard Photo

A team of six salvage experts boarded Shell’s grounded Kulluk drilling rig earlier today to conduct a structural assessment to be used to finalize salvage plans, the Kulluk incident Unified Command said late Wednesday.

Salvage of the Kulluk will be headed by Smit Salvage, which is a unit of the Netherlands-based Royal Boskalis Westminster.

The six-member team was lowered to the Kulluk by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at about 10:30 a.m., Wednesday and the assessment lasted 3 hours, the Unified Command said. The Coast Guard helicopter and crew also delivered a state-owned emergency towing system to the Kulluk, which will be used during salvage operations.

Efforts to place a team on-board the rig to conduct the assessment have been on hold due to severe weather conditions over the past several days. Calmer conditions Wednesday morning created a window that enabled the assessment to take place, the Unified Command said.

The information gained from today’s on-site assessment will help the team to evaluate the available options for freeing the rig from its grounded position on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island, situated about 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska.  The assessment team returned to Coast Guard Air Station/Kodiak following the boarding.

Earlier Updates: Kulluk Incident

For those of you that have been asking, here is a profile view of the Kulluk’s hull.

Profile view of Kulluk's hull

Profile view of Kulluk’s hull. Courtesy Shell

Additional information on the Kulluk can be found at the following link (page 25). Mooring/Anchoring system diagram on page 28/29.

DOWNLOAD (large): http://www.boem.gov/uploadedFiles/BO…Management.pdf

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  • DPO with Bering Sea experience

    I am a ship’s officer on a 6th generation drilling unit with extensive experience in the Bering Sea before working in the GOM. I live in Seattle and I have experience living and sailing throughout Alaskan waters. My advice to ECO, Noble, and Shell – Hire Masters with Bering Sea experience. This is no GOM. Call them Hurricane Captains if you must. I hope there are some valuable lessons learned from this easily avoidable incident. I am a bit ashamed to see two such accidents occur in such short order. Lets tighten it up and make Alaska a booming success.

  • Capt Bob

    Aiveq Master is a experienced guy with Anartic (south pole) time under his belt. They dont come any better.

  • JBK

    Can anyone help me out here? None of the articles I’ve seen mention why, in the world, the Kulluk was being towed through the Gulf of Alaska in December / January to begin with. I know the Beaufort isn’t exactly a short distance away, but it has been months. Did they stop in Nome for an extended vacation?? At this rate, by the time they got to Seattle they’d have missed the 2013 summer season already. Anyone know?

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