Not that we ever said Shell’s ships were unfit for the water and that this was going to happen or anything…
A large drill ship belonging to the oil company Shell ran aground off Alaska on Monday night after drifting in stormy weather, company and government officials said.
The ship, the Kulluk, broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven, within hours, to rocks just off Kodiak Island, where it grounded at about 9pm Alaska time, officials said.
The 18-member crew had been evacuated by the coastguard late on Saturday because of risks from the ongoing storm.
With winds reported as reaching 60 miles an hour and Gulf of Alaska seas of up to 12 metres, responders were unable to keep the ship from grounding, said coastguard commander Shane Montoya, the leader of the incident command team.
“We are now entering into the salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event,” Montoya told a news conference late on Monday night in Anchorage.
There was no known spill and no reports of damage, but the Kulluk had about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board, Montoya said.
The grounding of the Kulluk, a conical, Arctic-class drill ship weighing nearly 28,000 gross tonnes, is a blow to Shell’s $4.5bn (£2.8bn) offshore programme in Alaska.
Shell’s plan to convert the area into a major new oil frontier has alarmed environmentalists and many Alaska Natives but excited industry supporters.
Environmentalists and Native opponents say the drilling programme threatens a fragile region that is already being battered by rapid climate change.