The Coast Guard has apparently reconsidered its refusal to rent the Aivik, a ship belonging to Edison Chouest Offshore, to use as an icebreaker.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Charles Ray told a U.S. House subcommittee this week the ship’s owners submitted a plan to put the vessel through an ice trial.
“We’ve been in communication with them as recently as last week and told them we’d be interested in sending Coast Guard observers for this ice trial, if and when they do that,” Ray said.
The admiral didn’t name the ship, but subcommittee chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., did.
“Let’s stay on the Aivik a minute,” he said, after the subject first came up.
The Aivik has a history in Alaska. It was the tug pulling the Kulluk, the ill-fated Shell drilling rig that went aground near Kodiak in 2012.
Louisiana-based Edison Chouest had the Aivik built to support Shell’s offshore Arctic drilling work. Now that Shell doesn’t need the $200 million vessel, the owners are looking for someone to lease it.
Alaska Congressman Don Young has pushed the Coast Guard to consider the ship. At a hearing last year, Young chewed out a different admiral for rejecting it.
“Sir, our current opinion is that ship is not suitable for military service, without substantial refit,” the admiral said.
“That’s what I call, Mr. Chairman, a bullsh– answer.” Young said at the time. “Military service. I’m talking about moving ice.”
Young wasn’t present for the discussion this week and it was Rep. Hunter who pressed the Coast Guard, but gently.
“So when they execute the ice trials, according to what the Coast Guard wants them to do, you’re going to have Coast Guard observers?” Hunter asked.
Admiral Ray repeated that the Coast Guard has offered to send people.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Edison Chouest is a top contributor to the campaigns of both Young and Hunter.
The Coast Guard’s willingness to observe the Aivik was first reported on WorkBoat.com.