Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Kulluk Salvage Is Apparently Over

The latest Kulluk Unified Command Update says that the 
"resources contracted specifically for the salvage operation are in the process of demobilizing."
I'm learning a lot about things I knew nothing about before Shell began drilling for oil in the Arctic.  Does this mean that the salvage stage is over?  The update (#36) says they are now doing assessment. I guess that must be different from salvage.  Time to look up salvage.  From Wikipedia:

Marine salvage is the process of recovering a ship, its cargo, or other property after a shipwreck. Salvage encompasses towing, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, or patching or repairing a ship. Today the protection of the environment from cargoes such as oil or other contaminants is often considered a high priority.
"Salvors" are seamen and engineers who carry out salvage to vessels that are not owned by themselves, and who are not members of the vessel's original crew. When salvaging large ships, they may use cranes, floating dry docks and divers to lift and repair ships for short journeys to safety towed by a tugboat. The aim of the salvage may be to repair the vessel at a harbour or dry dock, or to clear a channel for navigation. Another reason for salvage may be to prevent pollution or damage to the marine environment. Alternatively the vessel or valuable parts of the vessel or its cargo may be recovered for its resale value, or for scrap.
The International Salvage Union identifies different salvage situations from:
  • Fire/Explosion
  • Collision
  • Grounding
  • Breakdowns 
Grounding seems to be the kind of salvage operation the Kulluk had:
Grounding:   many salvage operations involve a response to vessel groundings. Some groundings occur in areas of great environmental sensitivity. The salvage team arriving at the scene must make a rapid assessment of the casualty’s condition and the potential for refloating without further hull damage and loss of cargo. In some instances, it is necessary to discharge part or all of the cargo, in order to free the ship. Much depends on the nature of the grounding site (sand, mud, rock, coral, etc), the extent to which the hull is aground, the degree of damage and a wide range of other operational factors, especially the weather. A forecast deterioration in the weather can have a major influence on the salvage strategy adopted.
Image from Unified Command Update #36
Now the Kulluk is 'safely' tucked away at Kiliuda Bay.  Blogger Phil Munger has been writing a lot about this at Progressive Alaska.  Phil knows a little more about these things than most bloggers because in a past life he's been the harbormaster at Cordova [Whittier.] Phil wondered why the Kulluk wasn't taken all the way to Kodiak.  Let me make some guesses.

  • If there is a problem with leakage, they don't want to take it too far so they don't damage too  much area.  (The Update says, though, that there are no signs of leakage.)
  • They can do what they are doing without being observed by very many people in Kiliuda Bay, while any reporter can fly easily to Kodiak.

That's the limit of my imagination on that question.  Here's the whole update:

DATE: January 8, 2013 1:45:00 PM AKST
For more information contact:
Unified Command
voice: (907) 433-3417
Update #36: Kulluk Remains Anchored, ROVs Arriving for Assessment
January 8, 2013
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Unified Command confirmed the following information today:
  • The Kulluk remains safely anchored in Kiliuda Bay at its assessment position. There continues to be no sign of leakage in the vicinity.
  • Support vessels will remain with the Kulluk during its assessment, while other resources contracted specifically for the salvage operation are in the process of demobilizing.
  • Remote-Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are arriving at the Kulluk later today to begin assessing the hull. Divers will be deployed if necessary.
  • Unified Command, along with local representation from Old Harbor Native Corporation, are surveying the area to obtain GPS coordinates that will enable the recovery of lifeboats and other debris from the Kulluk. Time and weather permitting, the team today will begin collecting debris from the shoreline.
Unified Command also released the map of the Kulluk’s final tow route (shown below), which shows the revised path avoiding the cod pots in the Gulf of Alaska.

1 comment:

  1. Harbormaster - one word.

    Whittier, not Cordova - from December 1, 1976 through November 25th, 1981.

    Good job on keeping up with this, Steve.

    Basically, the Unified Command's job is over, or should be.


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