(From Thursday: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter)
Before it’s decided if Shell’s grounded drilling rig Kulluk can and will resume its tow back here for offseason maintenance, an effort is afoot not just to tow it off the Alaskan island where it’s stuck, but to move it 30 miles to a “safe harbor” for inspection. The Kulluk, which spent almost a year at Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyards, got into trouble in bad weather more than a week ago, while being towed back here. Finally, after problems with tow lines and its tow vessel Aiviq – which spent time here last year too – the Kulluk went adrift and grounded New Year’s Eve on Kodiak Island (map), carrying more than 100,000 gallons of fuel, none of which is believed to have spilled. A “unified command” has since been set up to manage the salvage operation, and the Anchorage Daily News has a report on its Saturday briefing, saying that if the attempt to move the Kulluk is successful, then they’ll decide whether to resume towing it here.
SIDE NOTES: Seattle weather analyst Cliff Mass says the decision to tow it through stormy weather and seas was “misguided” and explains why; the Dutch Harbor Fisherman, meantime, has reported that the motivation for trying to move the rig out of Alaska involved taxes. One other link: The “unified command” organized for the salvage operation has its own website at kullukresponse.com, with a variety of materials and documents, including a partial transcript of the Saturday briefing.