Monday, July 27, 2015
Several weeks ago, the M/V Fennica, sister to the M/V Nordica, scrapped bottom whilst departing ~1,000 miles north into the Arctic. Despite being under the guidance of a Harbor Pilot, the route she chose to leave the harbor was dubious, in the minds of many locals.
The channel the Fennica sailed, under guidance of a harbor pilot, was even shallower than the area’s 80-year-old charts showed. Charts still in use in the Aleutians and Arctic Alaska are based on surveys conducted in 1935 with sextants and hand-held lines to plumb the depths.
After the incident, the NOAA ship Fairweather, already in the area on a mission to better map Arctic shipping routes, did a modern, electronic survey and found rocky areas less than 30 feet deep, including one just 22.5 feet deep. The Fennica sits 27.5 feet deep in the water.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Bill Fitzgerald, with the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment Dutch Harbor, said most of the deeper-draft fishing vessels using Dutch Harbor go around the opposite, deeper side of Hog Island. “They don’t typically have too deep a draft, at least going between Hog Island and Amaknak,” Fitzgerald said.(John Ryan, KUCB-FM, 7/20/2015)
A yard in the Port of Dutch Harbor claimed to be able to "slap a piece of steel" over the 3 foot gash, and have her "back on line before all the Federal paperwork could be completed."
Much to their credit, in a rare moment of clarity, Shell decided to have the non-life threatening hole repaired in the Lower 48, at Vigor Industrial on Swan Island in Portland.
"Sightline’s review of publicly-available campaign finance records shows that since 2009, Shell has given $598,700.58 to state level candidates for office in Oregon. (It is a starkly different strategy than the one they deploy in Washington, where the company routes nearly all its political funds through lobbyists.)
"In Oregon, the top recipients of Shell’s political largesse are: $11,280.70: Julie Parrish, a Republican currently representing District 37, (Tualatin/West Linn)." (Sightline Daily)
It is not clear how long the repair will take, but it is vital to Shell's Drilling Plan that the Fennica "be on station" during the drilling operation.
On board the Fennica is a 30 foot tall capping stack, which can be deployed in the event of a blow out, similar to what happened in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Arctia Offshore's Fennica and her sister vessel Nordica are assigned to Ice Management; patrolling and rounding up floes that could endanger the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer. The Aiviq, Ross Choust and Tor Viking are assigned to Anchor Handing. duty.
In this operation, strict adherence to "The Plan" is paramount. The pawns are not interchangeable as few suggest.
Not only State and Federal Authorities, but also a handful of conservation and environmental interests are closely monitoring this incursion into the Chukchi Sea.
Shell tried to ad-lib it in 2012, and look at the mess that resulted in the Kulluk ending up in an Asian scrapyard, the Noble Discoverer having to be pulled from the fray and dry towed to Singapore for extensive repairs, and millions of dollars in fines assessed.
Shell isn't messing around in the Gulf of Mexico, where assistance can be brought in in a short amount of time. Wainwright Alaska is 1,092 miles north of the Port of Dutch Harbor.
Help is not a "quick phone" call away if they get tangled up in their drawers – again!