Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kulluk's Ride Arrives!

UPDATE 7:00A UTC March 20 2013

Crews finally placed the Kulluk aboard Xiang Rui Kou on Tuesday.  They reported it being an challange due to the conical shape of the drilling unit. When the rig started to spin - well, you get the idea!

Designed as an Earl & Wright/Sedco Arctic drilling vessel: inverted, truncated, conically shaped ice-strengthened hull.  The shape promotes ice to flow around the vessel.

The innovative design was to allow ice to pass safely around the vessel, to meet the challenge of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Listed as 27,968 Gross Tonnage. Tower height - 160 feet, capable of supporting 1.25 million pounds.

 It will take a few days to weld the Kulluk to the lift ship deck.

There has been no word from Shell as to where the Kulluk will be delivered. One has to wonder why Asia instead of Vigor Marine and Engineering in Tacoma, who prepared the rig for the 2012 drilling season.

UPDATE 4:40A UTC March 18 2013

A safety zone has been declared by US Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard.  The safety zone - excludes all vessels not associated the the transfer of the Conical Drilling Module Kulluk to the Heavy Lift Vessel Xiang Rui Kou.

As you read this document, notice ¶6, "Protest Activities." This article refers to "demonstrations,"  and is aimed at organizations such as Green Peace protests in Wellington, New Zealand.

Lucy Lawless lead a group to the top of the Noble Discoverer's drill tower, to protest Shell's plan to drill in the Arctic. Thy made their presence known when the Noble Discoverer was prepared for delivery to Shell's 2012  Arctic Expedition.

 Original Post Monday March 18, 2013.

After steaming from Hong Kong, the COSCO X-Class semi-submersible Heavy Lift Vessel Xiang Rui Kou  arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sunday March 17, 2013.

The distance from Hong Kong to Dutch is 7329 kilometers or 4,554 miles or 3,957 nautical miles. And that is " As the Crow Flies."

The Xiang Rui Kou is in Dutch Harbor to pick up, literally, the troubled Conical Drill Module Kulluk. She will be "dry docked" to Asia for repairs, after spending a harrowing week grinding on a beach on Sitkalidak Island.

Dutch Harbor has a long colorful history. Positioned darn near half way between North American ports and the Orient on the Great Circle Route, Dutch became an important coaling station.  And that also included vessel movement into the Bering Sea and Arctic.

From a document of the early years, in 1898, an estimated 40 vessels a month stopped in Dutch to bunker coal.  It is almost equidistant from North America to the Orient via a Great Circle route. Establishment of a coaling station proved to be a logistical advantage for ship owners, who could transit eastbound or westbound, with only half their bunkers of coal.

This provided more cargo capacity. Of course, they were depending on reaching Dutch Harbor for additional bunkers.

During the 10 years of the Alaska Gold Rush (1899-1909) the population of Dutch Harbor was estimated at 20,000.

During World War II, Dutch Harbor was struck two days in a row by aircraft launched by a Japanese aircraft carrier. American casualties numbered 33 military and ten civilian dead, 64 wounded, and 11 U.S. planes from Umnak Island were lost.

And you may recall Dutch Harbor hosting Discovery Channels "Deadliest Catch."

Meanwhile, her sister ship, Xiang Yun Kou, is dry docking Kulluks drilling partner, Noble Discoverer, to South Korea for repairs.

With the containment barge, Arctic Challenger still alongside at Bellingham Washington, the curtain begins to fall on Shell Oil's abysmal 2012 Arctic Expedition ...

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