Towline Aboard Stranded 'Kulluk' Rig
Aerial and onboard inspections confirm the vessel remains firmly aground & stable on Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, with no sign of leakage of pollutants.
Naval architects on the survey team confirm the Kulluk is structurally sound and fit for towing to safe harbor in nearby Kiliuda Bay. The exact timing for potential towing activity is dependent on weather, tides and operational readiness. Once the Unified Command team managing the incident confirms it is safe and ready to move forward, the recovery operation will begin.
The Unified Command report that the main tow line is attached, with the 'Kulluk' ready for transit. Tension will be maintained on the line overnight, with recovery expected to begin Jan. 7. However, the Salvage Master has the discretion to initiate the tow earlier should favorable conditions occur throughout the night.
The proposed plan is that the Kulluk will be moved from its current grounded position in Ocean Bay to Kiliuda Bay, about 30 miles north.
The tow will include several vessels, including the Aiviq, an anchor-handling vessel with ship towing capabilities. A U.S. Coast Guard marine inspector is aboard the Aiviq. The Salvage Master is aboard the Kulluk and will remain during transit to Kiliuda Bay. The tug Alert will also be connected to the Kulluk and assist in the tow. A 10-member salvage crew and one Shell representative are on board the Kulluk and will remain on the drilling unit throughout the tow.
Three Seattle-based ocean-going tugs, all with towing capabilities, will support the transit – Ocean Wave, Corbin Foss and Lauren Foss.
The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley will escort the tow to Kiliuda Bay. A 500-yard radius safety zone around the Kulluk will follow the tow and remain in place once it is anchored in Kiliuda Bay.
As part of the recovery operations, onshore, nearshore and offshore oil spill assets, including response vessels, will be on-scene in Ocean Bay and during transit.