By Mallory Peebles
Channel 2 News
5:37 PM AKST, January 9, 2013
Shell Oil confirmed Wednesday that it is moving forward with an assessment of damage to the the drilling rig Kulluk, which arrived in Kiliuda Bay off Kodiak Island Monday after spending nearly a week grounded on Sitkalidak Island.
At least two diving and salvage teams have been hired to take part in the assessment. Channel 2 spoke with Global Diving and Salvage, Inc., a company that has been subcontracted by Smit Salvage for the Kulluk operation. Company officials said they are not allowed to speak about the exact type of work they will be doing, but did explain how salvage operations are often run.
"Alaska poses its unique challenges with weather," said Frank Immel, Global Diving and Salvage's marketing manager. "You know, the weather comes up pretty hard and pretty fast, much more so there than any other places like the Gulf of Mexico or the coast of California or Washington, where we also work."
The company said it is common to see a salvage operation begin by sending in a remote operated vehicle, or ROV, before deploying a diver. Only one diver usually enters the water, with at least two additional support divers on standby at the surface.
"ROV technology is definitely advancing, and so the sizes are getting smaller so they're more convenient to have and utilize," Immel said. "It's pretty well-known to put an ROV into a situation first -- it would be a pretty good way to determine the stability and the safety."
A Global Diving and Salvage crew is already on scene in Kiliuda Bay. The Unified Command overseeing the Kulluk response said Wednesday night that the ROVs are now in use to inspect the platform's hull.
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