Source: KUCB News (Unalaska Community Broadcasting)
Shell Oil has run into a number of problems with its Arctic drilling plans over the last few days. The Coast Guard refused to certify its oil spill containment barge as it stands, the EPA is reviewing the Noble Discoverer drill rig's air permits -- and now, there may be damage to the rig itself.
The Noble Discoverer appears to have run aground in Unalaska on Saturday afternoon.
Despite rain and 35-knot winds, more than a dozen residents came to Airport Beach to watch the Shell's contract tugboat Lauren Foss straining to pull the rig back out to sea.
The Noble Discoverer has been in Unalaska since last Saturday, along with a flotilla of support vessels. It's supposed to begin drilling in the Chukchi Sea next month.
A Shell drilling ship drifted while anchored in Dutch Harbor on Saturday and may have struck land before tug boats pulled it away from a beach, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard is trying to determine why the Noble Discoverer's anchor slipped and whether the 571-foot vessel ran aground. Shell said the ship came &amp;quot;very near&amp;quot; land. Residents said its stern hit rocks before the vessel was towed off.
"It was on land," Laxfoss said in a telephone interview Saturday night. "It was as far as it could go ... it could not have gone any farther unless it turned and gone broadside."
Laxfoss snapped photos and watched, worried that the ship would turn parallel to the waves and shore. A local tugboat, the Saratoga, ran the ship's line out to a larger tug that pulled it away, he said.
"Thank god it only had the stern up on the rocks, and thank god that first tug boat got him out and got him out quick," Laxfoss said. "They were good."