Shell Oil confirmed late Thursday that a Chinese semi-submersible ship which recently arrived off Seward will be transporting the drillship Noble Discoverer to Korea for repairs.
According to Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith the Xiang Yun Kou, registered to Cosco Shipping and first spotted Thursday in Resurrection Bay by the Seward City News, has been selected to carry the drillship.
“The vessel will load (the Noble Discoverer) in the days to come and the journey will take approximately 2-3 weeks,” Smith wrote in an email.
A Cosco fact sheet on the 711-foot-long Xiang Yun Kou (PDF) says it’s capable of traveling at 13.5 knots. The vessel is also fitted with a series of 61 ballast tanks allowing it to submerge its flat main deck, as well as a pair of bow thrusters which help it maneuver beneath a cargo before surfacing and sailing.
The Noble Discoverer nearly ran aground in Dutch Harbor in July, while en route to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas for Shell’s 2012 drilling season. A subsequent Coast Guard inspection in Seward found several safety and pollution violations aboard the vessel, necessitating repairs to its propulsion system.
Shell announced a “pause” in its Arctic Ocean drilling operations for 2013 Wednesday, after both the problems with the Noble Discoverer and the conical drilling unit Kulluk’s New Year’s Eve grounding off Sitkalidak Island. The Kulluk departed Kiliuda Bay under tow by three tugs Tuesday bound for Dutch Harbor, where it will be placed on a drydock for transport to Asia for repairs.
Contact Chris Klint