ANCHORAGE Jan 3 The Royal Dutch Shell drill
ship that was tossed by high winds and grounded off an Alaska
island on New Years Eve has suffered some damage from waves and
flooding, but so far has not spilled any of the 155,000 gallons
of fuel and other petroleum products aboard, officials managing
the emergency response said Thursday.
Salvage experts were flown to the stricken Kulluk on
Wednesday and Thursday, officials said at a news conference in
"Today we can confirm that the Kulluk remains upright and
stable and there is no evidence of sheening in the vicinity,"
Sean Churchfield, Shell's Alaska operations manager and the
company's emergency-response coordinator, said at the news
The salvage crews found "some wave damage to the topside of
the vessel" and several breached hatches that caused water
damage inside, Churchfield said. Generators had also been
damaged, he said, and new generators might have to moved in to
provide power to move the vessel.
It remains unclear how serious the damage is or how long it
will take to move the ship away from its site, Churchfield and
other officials said. Churchfield said he could not comment on
how the Kulluk grounding would affect Shell's 2013 drilling
Coast Guard Captain Paul Mehler III said that, at his
request, marine-casualty investigators were on their way to
Alaska from the Coast Guard's Center of Excellence in New
Orleans. Findings from the Coast Guard investigation will be
made public, Mehler said.
Area residents have expressed concerns about conflicts with
upcoming commercial fishing seasons and traditional
food-gathering activities, state and local officials said. A
particular concern is the vulnerability of a nearby historical
site, they said.
The Kulluk is grounded near an important cultural site for
the region's native Alutiiq people, who are concerned about
protecting the area's values to their heritage, state and local
Sitkalidak Island was the site of a notorious 18th century
massacre in which Russian colonial forces killed hundreds of
Alutiiq men, women and children.
The site, called "Refuge Rock," is "probably the most
culturally significant place" for residents of the nearby
village of Old Harbor, said Duane Dvorak, a community liaison
from the Kodiak Island Borough.