Custom Search
Top Stories
Go to Site Index See "Top Stories" main page
Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kurt Fredrickson.
NEWS RELEASE · 2nd January 2013
USA Coast Guard
The following is the direct, unaltered text, from the USA Coast Guard beginning on Friday, December 28, when they first reported on the developing incident. The last report on their website found Here is from Monday, December 31st, when they anticipated everything would be under control.

These reports are followed by reports from the incident Command Center, established after it was determined the rig would ground on the Island.

Video of Coast Guard rescue here

Note all pictures are supplied via the Coast Guard.


Coast Guard assists tug and tow in Gulf of Alaska

December 28th, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coast Guard Sector Anchorage personnel are coordinating a response with Royal Dutch Shell representatives after the tugboat Aiviq experienced multiple engine failures while towing the mobile drilling unit Kulluk approximately 50 miles south of Kodiak Island Friday.

The crew of the Aiviq reported that they were able to restart one of the ships engines and is currently awaiting assistance from the crews of the response vessels Guardsman and the Nanuq, which departed Seward and are expected on-scene early Friday afternoon.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley is currently on scene and monitoring the situation.

“Our primary concern is ensuring the safety of the personnel aboard the Aiviq and Kulluk,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “We are working closely with industry representatives to provide assistance and to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

Weather on scene has been reported as 40 mph winds and 20-foot seas.

Coast Guard crews battling fierce storm while assisting Kulluk near Kodiak, Alaska

December 29th, 2012

JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard crews continue to battle 20-30 foot seas and 30-40 knot winds while providing assistance to the crews of the Kulluk and its three support vessels, Guardsman, Aiviq and Nanuq near Kodiak, Alaska Saturday. Coast Guard crews in conjunction with Royal Dutch Shell are working together to ensure safety of life at sea for all involved and prevent the disabled vessels from running aground despite the extremely challenging weather.

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak delivered engine parts and technicians to the crew of the support vessel Aiviq, in 30 mph winds and 20-foot seas last night, so they could make repairs to the ships three damaged engines. These repairs have enabled Aiviq to hold position with Kulluk to keep both vessels from drifting closer to shoal waters near Kodiak. Additionally the Nanuq has established a towline to Kulluk and both Nanuq and Aiviq are working in tandem to keep Kulluk safely under control. Plans to evacuate non-essential personnel from Kulluk are being developed, however, the heavy seas are contributing to heavy rolling and pitching of the Kulluk making helicopter hoisting operations extremely dangerous.

“The weather on scene is testing the limits of our Coast Guard crews. The professionalism of our air crews and cutter men and women have prevented the situation from deteriorating further” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander 17th District in Juneau, Alaska. The 17th District is directing the rescue efforts involving multiple cutters, ships, and aircraft. “The 17th District is mobilizing all available cutters and aircraft in a layered response to ensure personnel safety for everyone on the disabled vessels and to prevent a potential grounding or environmental damage in the area,” said Ostebo.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage were initially contacted by the crew of the Aiviq, a 360-foot tug on Thursday who reported that their towing hawser linking them to Kulluk had parted in heavy seas casting the Kulluk adrift. Aiviq was able to reestablish the tow with another emergency towing hawser but subsequently experienced total engine failure casting both Aiviq and Kulluk adrift in the heavy seas and strong winds. Royal Dutch Shell directed the launch of the Guardsman and the Nanuq and Coast Guard 17th District directed the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to divert from their patrol to provide assistance. The Alex Haley is a 282 foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Kodiak.

The Alex Haley arrived at the Aiviq’s location early Friday and successfully delivered a towline to the Aiviq which was still connected to Kulluk in strengthening 40 mph winds and building 35-foot seas at approximately 4:30 a.m. The Alex Haley was able to establish a tandem tow of Aivig and Kulluk preventing further drift of the disabled vessels towards shoal water. The heavy seas, strong winds, and sheer mass of both Aiviq and Kulluk created enormous challenges for Alex Haley to establish and maintain the tow. At approximately 6:30 a.m. the crew of the Alex Haley reported that the towline had parted and become entangled in the ship’s port propeller. The command directed the ship to return to Kodiak in order to make repairs. The tow line between Alex Haley and Aiviq parted due to the heavy strain created by the wind, seas, and displacement of Aiviq and Kulluk, however the effort by Alex Haley slowed the drift towards shoal water and bought extremely valuable time to enable further rescue options. “I applaud the can-do spirit of the crew of the Alex Haley. They accomplished the nearly impossible given the weather conditions and bought valuable time. Without their efforts the overall situation would be much worse than it is now,” said Ostebo.

A Coast Guard HC-130 crew from Kodiak was launched from Air Station Kodiak to monitor the situation and the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory in Homer was launched to provide on scene support. Subsequently, Coast Guard Cutter Spar from Kodiak was launched and is en route the scene to assist.

The crew of the Guardsman arrived at the Aiviq’s location at approximately 1:30 p.m. Friday and successfully took the Aviq and Kulluk in tow. The tow by Guardian was not able to overcome the drift created by the strong winds and seas. However at approximately 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the crew of the Guardsman reported that their towline to the Aiviq had parted and they were unable to re-establish the tow because of on scene weather conditions. “The multiple towline failures only highlight the extremely challenging situation created by the winds, seas, and sheer bulk of the Kulluk. I applaud the efforts of all the vessels on scene and their courage in the face of almost impossible odds,” said Ostebo.

The Coast Guard, Royal Dutch Shell, State, federal, and local officials in Kodiak have stood up a unified command to be prepared in case any of the vessels run aground and potentially release any fuel. The unified command is closely monitoring the overall rescue operation and is preparing for any eventuality.

At approximately 9 p.m. Friday, Royal Dutch Shell contacted the Coast Guard and requested the removal of the crew from the Kulluk due to safety concerns for the personnel onboard in the rolling and pitching vessel in heavy seas. Additionally, Royal Dutch Shell requested delivery of parts to the Aiviq so they could make repairs to their engines. Aiviq’s engine failures were attributed to some poor quality fuel that had been isolated. Repairing Aiviq’s engines became the priority because Aiviq is the only vessel available on scene capable of towing Kulluk. The tug Alert from Prince William Sound is also capable to towing the Kulluk and will arrive on scene mid-day on Sunday.

Two Coast Guard MH-60 helicopters crews were launched at approximately 10:30 p.m to attempt the evacuation of the personnel from the Kulluk but were unable to hoist the crew because the 50 mph winds and 20 foot seas were causing the Kulluk to pitch and roll to such a degree that hoisting the personnel was too dangerous.

At approximately 5 a.m. Saturday, a MH-60 helicopter crew successfully completed the first delivery of engine parts to the crew of the Aiviq who began making repairs.

At approximately 7 a.m., Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak completed the delivery of engine parts to the crew of the support vessel Aiviq, in 30 mph winds and 20-foot seas. The total amount of repair parts delivered by helicopter is over 2000 lbs.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., the crew of the Aiviq was able to successfully make repairs to the ships damaged engine with the Coast Guard delivered parts and were able to keep the Kulluk from drifting closer to shoal waters.


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

December 31st, 2012

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.


Unified Command Statement #11

ANCHORAGE, AK – The Unified Command reports that the Kulluk is now adrift. The Kulluk is estimated to be four miles from the nearest point of land.

The safety of personnel and the environment remain the top priority.

Difficult weather conditions are anticipated to continue throughout the day. Unified Command is considering all options.

This is an evolving situation. More information will be released as it becomes available.

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.

Unified Command Update #13

•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.

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. See Google Image Picture below

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.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak delivers mechanical parts to the tug Aiviq crew while underway 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak delivers mechanical parts to the tug Aiviq crew while underway 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012
The Mobile Drilling Unit Kulluk off the Seattle waterfront on July 19, 2011. Photo by Flickr user Dave Nakayama (dnak)
The Mobile Drilling Unit Kulluk off the Seattle waterfront on July 19, 2011. Photo by Flickr user Dave Nakayama (dnak)
Waves crash over the conical drilling unit Kulluk where it sits aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, Jan. 1, 2013.
Waves crash over the conical drilling unit Kulluk where it sits aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, Jan. 1, 2013.
Close up Google Image of location the Shell Rig Kulluk is grounded
Close up Google Image of location the Shell Rig Kulluk is grounded