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NEWS RELEASE · 2nd January 2013
USA Coast Guard w TD Comment
The following is direct text extracted from the media releases provided by the USA Coast Guard and their recently established emergency response center called “Unified Command”.

Earlier reports and releases can be found by following this link here. Following the chronology of events and reading these detailed accounts of; numerous tugs and recovery vessels on scene, the helicopter drop of repair parts, the weather and sea conditions, the closeness of all services and the failure to maintain control in these all but ideal circumstances, will provide the reader with an understanding of the concerns raised by those opposed to crude oil tanker traffic in the North Pacific where this type of emergency response is not possible.

Read a follow-up report by the Anchorage Daily Here and watch a video of the Coast Guard circling the stricken rig Here.

Update #16: Sen. Murkowski briefed on Kulluk Tow Incident

The Unified Command met with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski Jan. 1, 2013, to discuss the priorities and challenges associated with the Kulluk Tow Incident response.

The Unified Command stressed to Sen. Murkowski that all were aligned on objectives with safety of its personnel and protecting the environment being the top priority. The senator was briefed on the full-response effort including the challenges endured by responders to stabilize the Kulluk in extreme weather conditions.

"Senator Murkowski shares the Coast Guard's desire to protect the pristine Alaska environment and response personnel," said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo. "Everyone involved in the response effort has the same objective: to safely recover the Kulluk without injuries or impact to the environment. So far, response personnel have demonstrated great resourcefulness and adaptability to the weather and other challenges in a very difficult operation."

“The senator’s visit to the command post is encouraging to response personnel and our efforts to resolve this incident,” said Steve Russell, state on-scene coordinator. “With the Kulluk grounding within state waters, we will closely monitor the recovery of the rig with the goal of little to no environmental impact.”

Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, U.S. Coast Guard 17th District and Coast Guard 17th District Incident Management Team commander; Capt. Paul Mehler, Federal On-Scene Coordinator; and Sean Churchfield, Shell Incident Commander, met with the senator today.

The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Noble Drilling Contractor and Shell. The Unified Command is working closely with other federal, state, local and tribal partners.

Update #17: Flyovers planned to assess Kulluk condition

The Unified Command plans multiple flyovers today to assess the condition of the Conical Drill Unit (CDU) Kulluk that remains grounded but stable near Sitkalidak Island located on the north edge of Ocean Bay.

Once conditions are deemed safe, Unified Command intends to place an assessment team on the Kulluk to further evaluate the vessel’s condition.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instituted a Temporary Flight Restriction, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley is maintaining a safety zone of one nautical mile around the Kulluk this morning. Both restrictions were put in place to ensure the safety of response personnel, as well as local mariners and aviation pilots in the area.

The Kulluk is upright and stable, and the Coast Guard flight crew’s aerial assessment Jan. 1, 2013 found no signs of environmental impact.

More than 600 people are supporting this response. Unified Command remains focused on ensuring the safety of responders and protecting the environment.

Unified Command is working with Old Harbor Native Corporation to stage spill response equipment should it be needed.