Main tow line attached, Kulluk ready for transitNews // January 7, 2013
The main tow line has been attached to Kulluk (photo: Unified Command).
Salvage teams have successfully attached the main tow line to the Kulluk drilling unit,which grounded off Alaska last week, and the Unified Command has confirmed that all elements are in place for towing operations to proceed.
Tension was expected to be maintained on the line overnight, with recovery expected to begin on January 7th. However, the salvage master has the discretion to initiate the tow earlier should favourable conditions occur throughout the night.
The proposed plan is that Kulluk will be moved from its current grounded position in Ocean Bay to Kiliuda Bay, about 30 miles north.
The tow will include several vessels, including the Aiviq anchor-handling vessel with towing capabilities. A US Coast Guard marine inspector is aboard Aiviq.
The salvage master is aboard Kulluk and will remain during transit to Kiliuda Bay. The tug Alert will also be connected to Kulluk and assist in the tow.
A 10-member salvage crew and one Shell representative are on board Kulluk and will remain on the drilling unit throughout the tow.
Three Seattle-based ocean-going tugs, all with towing capabilities, will support the transit – Ocean Wave, Corbin Foss and Lauren Foss.
The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley will escort the tow to Kiliuda Bay. A 500-yard radius safety zone around the Kulluk will follow the tow and remain in place once it is anchored in Kiliuda Bay.
As part of the recovery operations, onshore, nearshore and offshore oil spill assets, including response vessels, will be on-scene in Ocean Bay and during transit.