Coast Guard crews continue battling fierce storm to assist Mobile Drilling Unit Kulluk near Kodiak, Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard crews continue to battle the elements to provide assistance to the crews of the Mobile Drilling Unit 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.

The Unified Command is in direct contact with the crews of the response vessels and is receiving routine reports about conditions on scene. This information, along with updated weather reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is being used to develop future course of action and plan for various contingencies that may occur.

“The communication between the different stakeholders involved in this response has been exceptional,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “The ability to quickly adapt and safely coordinate efforts to maintain control of the Kulluk despite the harsh weather remain the key factors in a successful outcome.”

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak are preparing to deploy several technicians aboard the Kulluk. The technicians will inspect the current condition of the towlines on the drilling unit.

“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 Ostebo. “They will provide key onsite information about towing issues or concerns and allow the Unified Command to develop contingency plans accordingly.”

Weather on scene is reported at 32-mph winds and 4-foot seas but is forecast to increase to 63-mph winds and 28-foot seas by Monday evening.

Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kurt Fredrickson

Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kurt Fredrickson.

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