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Kulluk grounded, vessel condition not yet confirmed (Sitkalidak Island)

Special Note: We'll be delaying the daily ComFish News Roundup until mid-morning when the sun comes up and we can get fresh photos. Will stay focused on this developing story throughout the day.

Crewmembers of the mobile drilling unit Kulluk 
arrive safely at Air Station Kodiak after being 
airlifted by a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter 
crew from the vessel 80 miles southwest of 
Kodiak, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2012. A total of 18 crewmembers 
of the mobile drilling unit were airlifted to safety 
after they suffered issues and setbacks with the 
tug and tow. U.S. Coast Guard photo 
by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.
Shell drill ship runs aground in Alaska, raising spill concerns
Tony Hopfinger, Suzanna Caldwell | Jan 01, 2013

A drilling rig operated by Royal Dutch Shell that had been adrift off and on in rough seas since Thursday ran aground near Kodiak Island in Alaska on Monday night, raising concerns about a possible fuel spill.

The Kulluk -- a $290 million offshore oil rig operated as part of Shell’s Arctic drilling efforts in summer -- washed up shortly before 9 p.m. at Ocean Bay on Sitkalidak Island, located close to Kodiak Island's southeast shores. (Scroll down for dynamic map. We will adjust the waypoint when it's daylight and new photos to help geotag the satellite photo of the beach..)

The trouble started late Monday afternoon when a Shell tugboat -- one of two vessels pulling the Kulluk -- lost a line to the drilling rig. The second tug, the Alert, struggled to continue towing the Kulluk due to "severe engine problems." The Alert's crew was ordered to separate from the rig at 8:10 p.m. "to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel," according to state environmental regulators and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The concern now is for the condition of the Kulluk, which is carrying an estimated 150,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of lube oil and....
DATE: January 1, 2013 8:57:00 AM AKST
Unified Command Statement #14
ANCHORAGE, AK – Following is an update from the Unified Command for the Kulluk Tow Incident:
The safety of responders remains the top priority. The Kulluk grounded on the southeast shoreline of Sitkalidak Island (between the north edge of Ocean Bay and Partition Cove) at approximately 9 p.m. on December 31, 2012. The shoreline of Partition Cove is primarily comprised of mixed sand and gravel beaches.
  • Severe weather conditions continue to impact operations.
  • Unified Command is aggressively implementing contingency and response plans.
  • Command’s priorities include a full assessment of the current conditions of the Kulluk. The condition of the Kulluk has not been confirmed. The Coast Guard completed an initial night-time overflight on December 31, 2012, and additional assessments are planned today.
  • There is strong collaboration and coordination among members of Unified Command. We are also working closely with local communities. The safety of the Alaska maritime environment is a major focus and Shell is working with State, local and tribal partners to ensure the safety of Alaska’s maritime environment.
DATE: January 1, 2013 2:58:00 AM AKST
Unified Command Update #13
DATE: January 1, 2013 2:58:00 AM AKST
The tug Alert intentionally disconnected from the Kulluk at 8:10 p.m. on December 31, 2012, to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.
The Kulluk grounded at 8:48 p.m. on December 31, 2012 on Sitkalidak Island on the northern shore of Ocean Bay at a depth of about 32 to 48 feet.
The Kulluk is currently situated at:
Latitude: 57˚ -05.4N
Longitude: 153˚ -06.4W
The Kulluk has approximately 139,000 gallons of ultra low sulfur diesel on board. Equipment aboard the Kulluk is estimated to have about 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid.
The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter overflight detected no visible sheen.
There are no residents on Sitkalidak Island. The nearest town is Old Harbor, which is located on Kodiak Island.
More than 250 people are actively involved in the response efforts.
There have been three minor injuries associated with the incident. All personnel have returned to duty.

DATE: December 31, 2012 11:00:00 PM AKST
Unified Command Update #12
Kulluk grounded, vessel condition not yet confirmed
Unified Command Update #12
Unified Command Update #12: Kulluk grounded, vessel condition not yet confirmed

Anchorage, Alaska – The Unified Command reports that Kulluk grounded at approximately 9 p.m., Alaska time on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island. The crew of the tug Alert was ordered to separate from the Kulluk at 8:15 p.m. to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.

“The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge. We have more than 250 people actively involved in the response efforts,” said Susan Childs, Incident Commander, Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”

There were no personnel aboard the Kulluk at the time of grounding, and no injuries have been reported.

There is reportedly up to 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulpher diesel on board the Kulluk and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid. The condition of the vessel has not yet been confirmed and overflights are scheduled pending weather conditions. Unified Command, using a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft, plans to conduct a survey to assess the situation at first light. A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so.

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