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Salvagers tight-lipped on Shell vessel recovery

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The united command overseeing the salvage of the Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill barge that ran aground on a remote Alaska island will release minimal information on the vessel until an assessment is completed, a spokeswoman said.

Shell's drill vessel Kulluk ran aground New Year's Eve on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak Island. On Jan. 6, it was pulled off the rocky bottom and towed a day later to protected waters in Kiliuda Bay within Kodiak Island.

The operation is under the direction of a unified command structure made up of Shell, the Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Kodiak Island Borough. The unified command has acknowledged that the vessel remains upright, has not leaked fuel and has been examined by divers, but not much else.

"I know you're looking for specific answers but we wanted to let you know that due to the fact that multiple entities are involved in the assessment of data, including Unified Command, Shell, Smit Salvage and Det Norske Veritas, Unified Command will not comment on the assessment until the report is finalized," said spokeswoman Deb Sawyer by email in response to questions about the operation. She did not provide a timetable for when the report would be done.

Smit Salvage is a Holland-based salvage company. Norway-based Det Norske Veritas inspects and evaluates the condition of vessels.

After Associated Press requests for additional information, the unified command said in a statement Friday night that a total of 12 divers and one remotely operated vehicle were used during the assessment of the barge in Kiliuda Bay.

The data-gathering phase of the assessment has been completed, the latest statement said.

The Kulluk's fuel tanks are intact and the damage found is "consistent with what is expected from a vessel of this type being on hard ground," according to the latest update.

Water entered some spaces on the vessel through damaged hatches but it has been captured and stored in a compartment, the unified command said. Windows and hatches that could allow water to enter are being sealed and tow brackets are being added in preparation for the vessel's next move.

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