Heavy Lift Ship Arrives to Retrieve Kulluk

Shell’s Kulluk drill rig is almost ready to leave Alaska waters.

The heavy lift vessel that will take the damaged oil rig to Asia for repairs arrived in Unalaska on Sunday afternoon. The Xiang Rui Kou was escorted to its anchorage in Captains Bay by three tugs.

The Kulluk has been in Unalaska for about two weeks, waiting for the 700-foot heavy lift ship to sail in from China.┬áMarine pilot Carter Whalen says it will take about seven hours to load the Kulluk onto the Xiang Rui Kou this Tuesday. The lift vessel will fill its ballast tanks and sink below the Kulluk so cranes can lift the rig onto the Xiang Rui Kou’s deck.

After that, Whalen says work crews will spend a few days securing the Kulluk. The vessels are expected to leave Unalaska toward the end of the week.

Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says the company doesn’t have any comment on the operation at this time.