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Mr. Magone is not working on the salvage of the Kulluk but has experience with other major groundings, including the Selendang Ayu, a cargo ship wrecked in December 2004 on Unalaska Island. Smit Salvage, the Dutch company hired to salvage the Kulluk, also worked on that wreck.

Mr. Magone’s company is under contract for two other wrecks — fishing boats from which fuel has been removed — but he’s waiting until spring to finish the job. That’s often the routine for winter groundings in the region, he said.

“The insurance company doesn’t want to pay any more money than they have to to get the wrecks out of there, so why risk our equipment and our crew and spend a thousand percent more money playing around in the wintertime when you can just wait until the weather’s good and do it then?” Mr. Magone said.

“That’s pretty normal. Of course with a big fiasco like this, there’s all kinds of pressure and everything. But there’s a limit to what you can do,” he said.

Shell has reported superficial damage above the deck and seawater within that entered through open hatches. Water has knocked out regular and emergency generators, but portable generators were put on board Friday.

The condition of the hull will be key in determining whether the Kulluk can be refloated.

The Coast Guard must review and sign off on a salvage plan. Brian Thomas of the Coast Guard’s salvage engineering response team in Washington said the team’s marine engineers give technical advice and assess risks.