A large drill ship belonging to the oil company Shell has run aground off Alaska 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, on 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.
There was no known spill and no reports of damage, but the Kulluk had about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board, said coastguard commander Shane Montoya, the leader of the incident command team.
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, he told a news conference late on Monday night in Anchorage.
"We are now entering into the salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event."
I received a phone call on this from one of my sources a few hours ago, and from what I understand Shell was essentially warned NOT to go through with putting his drill ship out into these waters. they were told the ship was not prepared for the type of seas it would encounter and that it was literally an accident waiting for place to happen.
Well now it has happened, and my sources tell me that the expectations are very high that there already substantial leaks, though nothing has officially been confirmed as of yet.
Stay tuned, this is still unfolding.