Shell oil-drilling ship under tow; had run aground

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Shell oil-drilling ship that ran aground near a remote Alaska island was under tow again early Monday, officials said.

The Kulluk was being towed at about 5 mph to shelter in Kodiak Island’s Kiliuda Bay, but officials wouldn’t estimate its arrival because of weather conditions — winds of about 18 mph and 15-foot ocean swells.

There’s a salvage crew of 10 people on board and one Royal Dutch Shell representative.

The Kulluk was refloated late Sunday from rocks.

There’s no sign of any oil discharge from the vessel. It is carrying more than 140,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.

The drilling vessel, which has no engines of its own, was being towed to Seattle for maintenance when it ran aground in a powerful storm on New Year’s Eve.

More than 730 people are involved in the response-and-recovery operation, according to the Unified Command, which includes the Coast Guard, Shell, and contractors involved in the tow and salvage operation.

The Kulluk is a circular barge 266 feet in diameter with a funnel-shaped, reinforced steel hull that allows it to operate in ice. One of two Shell ships that drilled last year in the Arctic Ocean, it has a 160-foot derrick rising from its center and no propulsion system of its own.

The Kulluk is being towed by the Aiviq, the same vessel that lost the Kulluk on Dec. 27 when a line broke. Four reattached lines between the Aiviq or other vessels also broke in stormy weather, and the Kulluk went aground.

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

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