Kulluk being prepared for move; no information on damage yet


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The U.S. Coast Guard and Shell are continuing work to prepare Shell's drill vessel Kulluk, which grounded in a storm Dec. 31, for being moved from a bay on Kodiak Island, Alaska, a statement from the joint Shell/Coast Guard Unified Command said Wednesday.

No information is being given, however, as to when the move will take place or on any results of the damage assessment from the grounding. The Kulluk was moved to Kiliuda Bay, a protected area, for inspections Jan. 6 after grounding on a small island about 30 miles away.

"The UC (Unified Command) has received confirmation from naval architects that the damage sustained by the grounding poses no threat to the stability or integrity of the Kulluk while anchored in Kiliuda Bay," the Unified Command statement said.

"The next step is an analysis of this data to determine the best course of action to relocate the Kulluk for permanent repairs. The UC will not speculate on this next step until the DNV (Det Norske Veritas) and USCG give their recommendations for safely relocating the Kulluk," the statement said.

 The Kulluk is meanwhile being prepared for the move. 

"The Kulluk's openings on the main deck (i.e., windows and hatches) have been secured and in some cases temporary steel structures have been added to close the openings to make the vessel water- and weather-tight for potential tow operations.  A few remain open to allow for ongoing operations," the statement said.

Shell was having the Kulluk towed from Dutch Harbor, a port in the Aleutian Islands, to Seattle for winter maintenance when the tow vessel and rig encountered a major storm in the Gulf of Alaska south of Kodiak.

Shell had used the Kulluk, a conical drill vessel designed for Arctic ice, in exploration drilling in the Alaska Beaufort Sea last summer and fall.

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