Shell Drill Rig Runs Aground

January 1, 2013 UPDATE: This information is from the Unified Command for the Kulluk.

The Kulluk grounded on the southeast shoreline of Sitkalidak Island (between the north edge of Ocean Bay and Partition Cove) at approximately 9 p.m. on December 31, 2012.  The shoreline of Partition Cove is primarily comprised of mixed sand and gravel beaches. Severe weather conditions continue to impact operations. The condition of the Kulluk has not been confirmed. The Coast Guard conducted a nighttime overflight last evening (Monday) and additional assessments are planned for today.

 

123112 5 PM- The Coast Guard is still assisting the crew of Shell’s drill rig Kulluk. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith is at the Unified Command Center where the Coast Guard, Shell and state officials are monitoring the situation. Smith says currently the rig is stable.

“We have two secure tow lines to the Kulluk. One from the tugboat Alert and one from the Aiviq. That’s obviously extremely welcome news given the difficulty we were having in securing this rig in pretty severe weather conditions,” Smith said.

The vessels are about 20 miles south of Kodiak Island.

The vessels have had trouble since last week when the Aiviq, the vessel towing the Kulluk had engine failure. The situation was complicated by severe weather and a tow line that snapped, setting the massive drill rig adrift.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley is on scene along with Shell’s vessel the Nanuq. Smith says the Guardsman has gone north to check on approaching weather conditions as well as looking for a sheltered place to take the Kulluk. Smith says the weather had quieted but is now picking up again.

“Tonight another portion of this storm is expected in that region, so possibly 20 to 30 foot swells and winds potentially over 60 miles per hour so very, very severe,” Smith said.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley returned to the Kulluk’s location Sunday evening, after repairing their fouled port propeller in Kodiak, and relieved the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR as on scene commander.

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak are preparing to deploy several technicians aboard the Kulluk. The technicians will inspect the current condition of the towlines on the drilling unit.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori