FIRST REPORT, 8:51 AM: Thanks to Christine for the first tip (and to everyone else who’s alerted us since!) – the Shell-owned drillship Kulluk has left Harbor Island, where it’s undergone what’s reported to be $100 million work at Vigor Shipyards, being prepared for a controversial new round of Arctic oil exploration. It arrived at Vigor almost a year ago – while the much-photographed SBX was still there (it had to move out briefly for Kulluk to move into place, as we reported that day). Right now, it’s being accompanied by Aiviq, the icebreaker whose arrival we showed you on June 2, when Greenpeace Esperanza was here too, watching for the Shell rigs’ departure. The rig that arrived later, Noble Discoverer, is still moored at Vigor right now. As noted here Monday, those three ships and others are now under a federally granted protection order for a 500-yard “safety zone” while they are in transit. The U.S. Coast Guard is escorting this group as it heads slowly westbound in Elliott Bay.
9:47 AM UPDATE: Thanks to Karyn for that earlier view from downtown, with Colman Dock in the foreground and West Seattle in the background. The flotilla is heading northwest now, about two-thirds of the way through the bay, still visible from north-facing West Seattle shores but getting more distant.
9:54 AM UPDATE: The Noble Discoverer has left too and is quickly catching up to the rest of the flotilla.
It arrived at Vigor in early April (WSB coverage here).