Wednesday, January 9, 2013

01/10/2013 7/24/2015 Update:  Shell Oil and Noble Corp., their drilling contractor will attempt to start drilling operations in the High Arctic next Spring. They are still attempting to do this with aging mobile offshore drilling units, flying open registry flags, avoiding many elements of Coast Guard inspection and getting around Jones Act requirements by pleading a shortage of U.S. built drilling vessels.  Pass on if you believe that U.S. Arctic drilling should be by U.S. flag vessels new built for the express purpose of Arctic exploration and fully inspected by the USCG.


   The Rescue of the crew and the taking into tow of the Offshore Mobile Drilling Unit KULLUK was one of the greatest Coast Guard rescue stories of the early decades of this new century. It has yet to be really told.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak conducts hoists of the first six of 18 crewmen from the mobile drilling unit Kulluk 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Alaska, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. The tug Aiviq suffered problems towing the Kulluk Thursday prompting the Coast Guard to deploy cutters and aircraft to while Royal Dutch Shell dispatched additiona tugs. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.
Photo by PO1 Sara Francis USCG  CG Helo takes off from the KULLUK with the first  six  crewmen to be rescued. After the  flight depicted it got really hairy

 We haven't covered the near loss and amazing crew rescue of the MODU KULLUK off of Kodiak, Alaska last week. The story made the news on the national media mostly as a kind of cautious tale of monitoring for pollution, which didn't happen, and the story rather quickly passed form the general media radar. The incredible aerial rescue of the crew was straight out of the movies PERFECT STORM, or THE GUARDIAN. It was carried out in worsening weather, cold, high seas, and was full of life threatening complications for the Coast Guard Air Crew, the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer lowered to the rig, and the ten crewmen who had to be rescued. No evacuation by helicopter from a vessel is uneventful or routine but the first lift as pictured above went off without a hitch. That lift bagged six healthy survivors. Left behind were  three others, some not in such good shape and the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / EMT.

 On the return of the helo for what would , thankfully be a "clean sweep" on scene conditions were worse, fatigue was worse, and the lift more complicated . We would have loved to have brought you this story in real time, but we are reluctant even today to say much. In the interests of full disclosure we have to admit that we did not bring you this story as it occurred even though we were privy to virtually real time reports from the scene. The simple reason was a conflict of interest .  Client confidentiality trumped a great story. This points out the problem we have with America's general media and a quite different one with our own news service. The American general media rarely accurately and insight-fully covers such stories. We on the other hand are amateur journalists and maritime professionals. We try to fill in some of the blanks between the general media and the highly specialized maritime trade journals as best we can and we really have some good sources, sometimes too good. One of the problems with news from actual working professionals is that sometimes one or more of us is armpit deep in the story. Professional mariner, or professional marine surveyor ethic, trumps amateur journalist desire to bring you the news, every time . This is one more reason why in 2013 one of our top priorities is to improve and professionalize our news service with a corporate fire wall between the news service and the individual professionals who make up the American Admiralty Books parent organization. But until we can work all these things out we will continue to do the best that we can within our present limitations.

 Meanwhile we can certainly  be on the look out for good professional journalism on this story and link you to it.  One of the best daily sources for this type of coverage is the Internet site g-captain . We carry a description and link to this source in our News Section. Below is a link to an excellent story with photos.

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