Divers Determine Noble Discoverer Did Not Ground

Photo courtesy of Kristjan Laxfoss

Divers inspected the hull of Shell’s drill ship, the Noble Discoverer, Monday night and determined that the rig never touched bottom when it drifted towards shore in Unalaska on Saturday. Coast Guard Lieutenant Jim Fothergill says investigators watched a live feed of the hull inspection from aboard the ship.

“We were able to find no physical evidence of any damage that would have been caused by a grounding,” Fothergill said.

Fothergill says regardless, the Coast Guard will still conduct a full investigation into the incident.

“We want to do our best to find ways to prevent things like this from happening again,” he said.

It could be a while before the results of that investigation are made public. In the meantime, Fothergill says the Coast Guard has determined that by the time the rig stopped drifting towards shore, the tug Lauren Foss had it in tow. That contradicts bystander observations that the rig stopped moving well before the tugboat was connected.

The Noble Discoverer is still anchored just offshore in Unalaska Bay, but Shell may move the vessel to a different mooring later today or tomorrow.