More Kulluk calamity

ANCHORAGE – The damaged drilling rig Kulluk continues to be a thorn in Shell’s side, even as it tries to simply make its way to Dutch Harbor. On Friday, two of the three tugs charged with taking it there from where it sits in Kiliuda Bay off Kodiak Island, were involved in an allision, forcing yet another delay. The tugs, which were not towing the Kulluk at the time, then headed to Kodiak for Coast Guard inspection, reports KTUU-TV in Anchorage.

The tugs were Foss Maritime's Corbin Foss and the new Crowley Maritime tug Ocean Wave. The pair were “maneuvering in close proximity,” according to the Coast Guard, when the Corbin Foss allided with the Ocean Wave. The Ocean Wave sustained only had minor damage. The Corbin Foss is a 141', 7,200-hp, twin-screw vessel, built by Marine Power & Equipment in 2003, and hails out of Seattle. The Ocean Wave, a 146', 10,880-hp, DP-1 tug, was built by Bollinger Shipyards. It was delivered in August.

The Kulluk remains at anchor for the moment.

The Corbin Foss and Ocean Wave are scheduled to team with another Foss tug, the Lauren Foss, to tow the Kulluk over 10 days to Dutch Harbor. An additional tug was set to escort the tow and the oil-spill response vessel Nanuq was scheduled to be on the scene as a precautionary measure. Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith told KTUU that the company doesn't anticipate that the tug collision will delay its plans to move the Kulluk to Captains Bay in Dutch Harbor. Recognizing the nature of the tow, a marine-monitoring center will be established by Shell to provide additional support for the tow master.

Today, the Coast Guard lifted the order restricting the movement of the Kulluk from Kiliuda Bay. “I reviewed all of the relevant and available information and determined that Shell has met the requirements of the Captain of the Port Order,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage and Captain of the Port, Western Alaska. “We will monitor the movement of the Kulluk to Dutch Harbor and will engage if needed.”