I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska , 8:27 AM GMT on July 15, 2012
Today we finished up around 5PM, much better than the 8AM - Midnight deal yesterday.
As I drove home I went up and over the hill from our warehouse, went around the curve and headed down toward the water I saw the mast of Noble Discoverer. Horribly closer than normal.
This was the first of two Shell drill rigs coming by Dutch, heading north to the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas up north. Like I am not north enough! The Noble Discoverer is a self contained drill ship. A rig on a ship. It is different from KULLUK, that oil rig that came through Dutch last year. Kulluk is just a drill rig, and must be towed to get anywhere.
Discoverer has been a landmark parked in the bay in front of Safeway for the last couple of weeks.
Today it was closer to Safeway, and the Post Office. Very close. Scary close.
The anchor lost its grip in the sandy soil and the 50 mph winds pushed the big rig ashore.
It was the lead story on the Anchorage news tonight. Down south tomorrow it will be buried. They said the rig got within 175 yards of shore. Check out my photo ON THE ROCKS. You tell me...
They did not acknowledge it even hit shore. A possible “soft grounding.” All I know is it stopped at that point with no assistance.
So when I first saw the very close boat, I immediately pulled over to the edge of the water off the road. I noticed 2 other vehicles doing the same thing. In 2 minutes, there were 15 cars. So I was knew I was there just when it happened. I took 2 pictures and my camera said CHANGE BATTERIES. Shades of Ocean Harvester! I quickly drove to Safeway where there was a RARE line and bought more batteries. After I returned, I wore out four of those new batteries in about 15 minutes.
But I saw a lot of action. Nothing moves in fast motion with boats, but I have posted pics, and will put together a film.
At first, one small tug- either Saratoga or the bigger Mike O’Leary- was struggling to pull the Discoverer off the shore. There were other boats all around, but they were standing by. The Discoverer was firing up its engines, as the black smoke indicated. But there it sat. My guess was it was about 80 yards off shore, close enough to be grounded.
A big crowd formed all along the beach, even though it was raining and blowing at 50 mph. Everyone was taking pictures. IDIOTS!! (See what I have posted).
It was more interesting to me as we deal with all the big players in this story. I even called one of the tugs as they were in route to help out, telling them we had some freight for them. They said hold on to it, they had a job to get done.
There are thre tugs (at least) with Dunlap towing who we work with all the time. They do a great service to Dutch, as well as the Horizon tug Gyrfalcon (JEER-Falcon).
As the whole Noble Discoverer episode unfolded off in the distance appeared KULLUK. Back with perfect timing. It was being towed in from Seattle by AIVIQ (EYE-VICK). The arrival could not have been more perfectly scripted. One big arrival, one big snafu. They pulled in within complete view, but after the Discoverer issue, they retreated back behind Hog Island out of sight.
Green Peace has already made a big statement about Shell not being able to handle a deep port anchorage, much less an Arctic drilling.
Don’t even ask me about work...
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