JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard crews continue to battle 20-30 foot seas and 30-40 knot winds while providing assistance to the crews of the Kulluk and its three support vessels, Guardsman, Aiviq and Nanuq near Kodiak, Alaska Saturday. Coast Guard crews in conjunction with Royal Dutch Shell are working together to ensure safety of life at sea for all involved and prevent the disabled vessels from running aground despite the extremely challenging weather.
Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak delivered engine parts and technicians to the crew of the support vessel Aiviq, in 30 mph winds and 20-foot seas last night, so they could make repairs to the ships three damaged engines. These repairs have enabled Aiviq to hold position with Kulluk to keep both vessels from drifting closer to shoal waters near Kodiak. Additionally the Nanuq has established a towline to Kulluk and both Nanuq and Aiviq are working in tandem to keep Kulluk safely under control. Plans to evacuate non-essential personnel from Kulluk are being developed, however, the heavy seas are contributing to heavy rolling and pitching of the Kulluk making helicopter hoisting operations extremely dangerous.
"The weather on scene is testing the limits of our Coast Guard crews. The professionalism of our air crews and cutter men and women have prevented the situation from deteriorating further" said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander 17th District in Juneau, Alaska. The 17th District is directing the rescue efforts involving multiple cutters, ships, and aircraft. "The 17th District is mobilizing all available cutters and aircraft in a layered response to ensure personnel safety for everyone on the disabled vessels and to prevent a potential grounding or environmental damage in the area," said Ostebo.