A large mobile drill rig ran aground off the coast of Alaska on Monday evening.
Reports from the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday said a flyover of the Conical Drill Unit (CDU) Kulluk
showed the vessel "remains grounded but stable" near Sitkalidak Island (north edge of Ocean Bay). The flight crew’s aerial inspection found no signs of a fuel spill from the vessel. Sitkalidak Island is just off Kodiak Island.
The grounding on New Year's Eve followed several days of high drama on the Gulf of Alaska that began when engines on the Aiviq
, one of the vessels towing the rig, stopped in heavy seas on Dec. 28.
The engines were restarted, and with the assistance of the Coast Guard all 18 members of the Kulluk
crew were evacuated Dec. 29.
and another vessel, Nanuq,
were able to establish a double tow on the vessel, but on Dec. 30 the tow lines to the rig separated.
Tow lines were reconnected on Dec. 31, but the rig went adrift again and ran ashore around 9 p.m. (local time) on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island.
Crews battled 40 mph winds and 35-foot seas during the incident.
A special Website on the incident can be viewed here
Although the incident happened in the Gulf of Alaska off the south coast of Alaska, the Kulluk
is rated to work in weather conditions historically occurring throughout the open-water season (July-October) in the Beauford Sea off the north coast of Alaska. - Chris Dupin