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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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The unified command said earlier that 250 people are in the Kodiak area as part of the effort and future plans for the Kulluk will be determined once a report is finished.

The command structure has declined to answer questions on what kind of data was collected, what inspectors might be looking for and whether anomalies have been detected.

The command structure also declined to say whether the inspection involves investigation of the vessel from the inside. No more details have been released regarding Kulluk generators that were knocked out or damage from seawater that entered through hatches that should have been sealed.

The Kulluk was built in 1983 for a Canadian company and purchased by Shell in 2005. The 266-foot-diameter vessel drilled last year in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's north coast. Its funnel-shape, reinforced hull is designed to deflect and break up moving ice, allowing it to drill beyond the short open water season.

The anchor handler Aiviq was towing the Kulluk to Seattle when the vessels ran into trouble in rough Gulf of Alaska water.

A tow line snapped Dec. 27 and a day later all four engines on the Aiviq failed, possibly due to contaminated fuel. The vessel's crew eventually regained power but four subsequent tow lines attached to the Aiviq or other vessels also failed before the grounding.

The unified command has said the Kulluk will not be moved before the end of Kodiak's tanner crab fishing season, which opened Wednesday and usually takes four to six days, said state shellfish management biologist Mark Stichert. Predicted bad weather may delay fishermen catching the quota of 520,000 pounds, he said.