Hull damage forces Shell support ship back to dock

An icebreaker carrying a key piece of equipment for Arctic drilling planned by Royal Dutch Shell off the northern coast of Alaska was forced to return to dock after a hole more than three feet long was discovered in its hull, the company said Tuesday.

It was unclear if the mishap would delay Shell’s plan for drilling this summer.

The crew of the Fennica discovered the leak in a ballast tank on Friday as the ship was leaving the channel in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on its way to the Arctic, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said.

The company had not determined if repairs can be made to the breach measuring about 39 inches long and a half-inch wide while the ship remains in Dutch Harbor or if it will have to go to drydock for the work.

Smith said bad weather had kept Shell from getting an inspector to Dutch Harbor for almost two days.

Shell had hoped to begin drilling the third week of July and is still awaiting a final drilling permit from the government.

The Fennica, one of many support ships for two drilling rigs, was transporting a capping stack that would be used to seal a well in case of a blowout.

Smith said other options were being considered if the Fennica cannot continue the trip, including transferring the equipment to another ship in the fleet.

It wasn’t immediately clear if that would require new permits from the government, another possible setback.

Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of the Interior, said Shell’s proposal for drilling activity in the Chukchi Sea this summer remained under review.

“As we’ve said from day one, Shell will be held to highest safety and environmental standards,” Kershaw said in a statement. “This includes having on hand the required emergency response systems necessary for each phase of its drilling program.”

Shell did not immediately know how the Fennica was damaged. Smith said the inspectors planned to re-enact the ship’s movements through the channel to see if there is a shallow hazard that wasn’t previously charted.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

The Homer City Council met with new council members for the first time Oct. 11. The election results were certified during the meeting and council members Shelly Erickson, Donna Aderhold and Jason Davis were sworn in. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
City of Homer 2020 audit shows clean financial records

The City of Homer received a clean audit for the 2020 fiscal… Continue reading

The Homer Election Canvass Board counted the final Homer City Council election ballots Friday, Oct. 8. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Election results certified in municipal elections

Aderhold, Erickson, Davis win Homer City Council; Tupper wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, District 9; Daugharty wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education, District 8.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Several members of the Alaksa House of Representatives were absent form a floor session Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, but after a quiet first week lawmakers are scheduled to hold committee meetings through the end of the week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
COVID cases delay Senate

Still slow going.

Most Read