Coast Guard Clears Kulluk to Depart for Unalaska

The Coast Guard lifted an order restricting movement of Shell’s Kulluk drill rig Thursday morning. Petty Officer David Moseley says the company had to provide information about assessments of the rig and their tow plan to the Coast Guard for review.

“The inspection, its seaworthiness, was done by industry class certification,” Moseley says. “They are the experts on those type of vessels. They inspected, they gave us their inspection for review, so we could understand what they found, if there were any concerns, or not, that needed to be addressed prior to its being transferred, or transported, from Kiliuda Bay.”

Now that the Captain of the Port order has been lifted, Shell is free to start towing the rig to Unalaska whenever it sees fit. It’s not clear when that will be, but Moseley says that the Coast Guard will be notified.

“We will know once they start that transit and we will monitor it as they make their transit to Unalaska.”

For now, the rig is anchored in Kiliuda Bay, on the south side of Kodiak Island.

That’s where two of the tugs that will be towing the Kulluk to Unalaska collided on Friday afternoon, as the Anchorage Daily News blog Progessive Alaska first reported. While working in close proximity, the Corbin Foss ran into the port side of the Ocean Wave. Petty Officer Moseley says there were no injuries and that the damage was minimal, but that the Marine Safety Detachment in Kodiak inspected both vessels.

“When we have an incident with reported damage that could impact the vessel, we, as the Coast Guard, want to ensure the safety of that vessel and the crew onboard so we will provide an inspection and an investigation into the incident to include things like drug testing of the crew, taking down statements of what was going on at the time, so we get a clear understanding of what was going on to see if there’s anything that needs to be addressed in the future with similar operations.”

The Ocean Wave is still tied up at the dock in Kodiak. The Corbin Foss is with the rig in Kiliuda Bay.

You can find more information about the Kulluk’s tow plan here.

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Brianna Gibbs is a reporter at KMXT in Kodiak.

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