KULLUK SITUATION - 12:31:2012 @ 8-50 PM AST

Changed the title of the post.  I’m currently listening to another hastily improvised press conference by the Unified Command from Anchorage.

The Shell Oil drilling rig went aground on the coast of Sitkalinak Island off of Kodiak Island at about 9:00 pm this evening.

Earlier part of the post:

This does not look good:

The Unified Command reports that the Kulluk is now adrift.  The Kulluk is estimated to be four miles from the nearest point of land.

The safety of personnel and the environment remain the top priority.

Difficult weather conditions are anticipated to continue throughout the day. Unified Command is considering all options.

This is an evolving situation. More information will be released as it becomes available.

I’ll keep you posted here at firedoglake too.

The weather situation is deteriorating rapidly.  The nearest the Kulluk had been reported to land was around 20 miles, before this very recent information.

Minor update:  I made a screenshot at 8:40 pm Alaska time of the positions of the vessels which have been attending the Kulluk, posted it on flickr, and put it at the top of this post.  The white “X” is Port Hobron on Sitkalidak Island, off the coast of Kodiak Island.  That is where they were hoping to find shelter sometime on January 1st.  The vessels in the screenshot are U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley, and tugs Aiviq, Nanuq and Alert.  The dotted lines are the track of the Aiviq today, as it maneuvered to get the rig back under tow.

Another minor update – Tuesday 9:55 am Alaska Time:  Here is the section of a maritime chart the Unified Command has posted, showing where the Kulluk first hit when it grounded yesterday.  The numbers are depths in fathoms (1 fathom = 6 feet).  The asterisks are rocks, which can be of greatly varying sizes.  The dot by “2048″ is where the rig was at time of impact.

Shell's reported position of Kulluk aground

My estimate – the white X – of the initial grounding position of the Kulluk – photographed on a much better day than yesterday or today.  Or tomorrow …..

Estimated grounding position of Kulluk