JANUARY 2, 2013 — Shell reports that a team of five salvage experts boarded the grounded drilling unit Kulluk earlier today to conduct a structural assessment to be used to finalize salvage plans, currently being developed by the Kulluk Tow Incident Unified Command.
The five-member team was lowered to the Kulluk by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at about 10:30 this morning. The assessment lasted about three hours. A helicopter safely hoisted the team from the drilling unit at about 1:30 p.m. The Coast Guard helicopter and crew also delivered a state-owned emergency towing system to the Kulluk, which will be used during salvage operations.
Efforts to place a team on-board the rig to conduct the assessment were put on hold due to severe weather conditions over the past several days. Calmer conditions this morning created a window that enabled the assessment to take place.
Smit Salvage is heading up salvage operations.
Shell says the information gained from the on-site assessment will be invaluable in helping to evaluate the available options for freeing the rig from its grounded position. Following the completion of its mission, the assessment team was returned to Coast Guard Air Station/Kodiak.