Crews battle harsh weather trying to tow drilling unit to Alaska harbor

Posted on: 3:02 pm, January 1, 2013, by , updated on: 03:04pm, January 1, 2013

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  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

  • Coast Guard crews continue to battle the elements to provide assistance to the crews of the Kulluk and its four support vessels, Aiviq, Nanuq, Guardsman and Alert, Monday. Coast Guard crews in conjunction with Royal Dutch Shell are working together to ensure the safety of life at sea and prevent the Kulluk from running aground despite the weather. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley returned to the Kulluk’s location Sunday evening, after repairing their fouled port propeller in Kodiak, and relieved the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR as on scene commander. The crews of the response vessels Alert and Aiviq re-established the tow of the Kulluk Monday morning and plan on towing the Kulluk to Port Hobron on the southeast side of Kodiak Island to seek shelter from the harsh storm that has been impacting the tow for the past several days. A Unified Command consisting of the Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and other federal, state, local and tribal partners was established on Friday and is working with Royal Dutch Shell and Edison Chouest Offshore to respond to this incident.

(CNN) — Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company’s drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.

Crews of two Shell-contracted tug boats were able Monday secure towing lines to the drilling rig Kulluk, which went adrift for 10 hours on Sunday while being shuttled to Seattle.

The Coast Guard said it planned to use helicopters to land technicians aboard the drilling rig.

“We have a brief weather window which provides the opportunity to get experts aboard the Kulluk to inspect the drilling unit and its tow set-up,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard 17th District. “They will provide key on-site information about towing issues or concerns and allow the Unified Command to develop contingency plans accordingly.”

Forecasters predicted the wind in the area, about 19 miles from Kodiak Island off the southern Alaska coast, to exceed 60 mph on Monday night. Waves could reach as high as 28 feet, the Coast Guard said.

“Ensuring the safety of personnel and protecting the area’s environment continue to be of the utmost importance,” Shell said in a statement.

The Kulluk finished drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea in October and was headed to its winter home with a crew of 18 when the tug boat that was towing it lost power.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said there was no spill in that incident.

The Coast Guard helped evacuate the crew on Saturday. No one was injured, Shell said.

Two other response ships and a Coast Guard cutter are nearby as the tugs wait to steer the Kulluk toward a safe harbor, the Coast Guard said.

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