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Royal Dutch Shell Kulluk Cover-up?

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Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 19.35.08Dry towing a drillship? Something must be very seriously wrong. And when the Kulluk comes out of the water the damage to the hull will be clear for all to see – look forward to seeing the photographs!


The practice of dry towing is used when a vessel is transported on the deck of a heavy lift vessel.
For the Kulluk, this will expose the damaged underside for all to see. Dry towing of the Kulluk makes sense because the speed of the heavy lift vessel is 2-3 times faster than could be achieved with a conventional tow.
Dry towing of the Discoverer is somewhat unusual because the drillship should have been capable of sailing under its own steam at about the same speed as a heavy lift transport vessel. The use of a dry tow implies that the vessel is unseaworthy. Perhaps the Discoverer was more seriously damaged when it went aground last summer than Shell admitted? Or perhaps the recent explosion was more than just a “backfire”?
It’s a pity the exclusion zone will prevent anyone taking photographs when the vessels are lifted out of the water.
If you look at Google images, you’ll find plenty of examples of heavy lift dry tows. There are comparatively few examples of large ships being dry towed, but a well-publicised case was the USS Cole (heading photo above) after it was attacked in harbour. See for example.


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Shell Drillship Noble Discoverer Backfires in Dutch Harbor

November 16, 2012|By Adam Pinsker and Chris Klint

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Unalaska firefighters responded to a stack backfire aboard the drillship Noble Discoverer Friday morning in Dutch Harbor, after it completed Shell Oil’s first season of exploratory Arctic offshore drilling in the Beaufort Sea last month.

According to Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith, the backfire occurred in one of the Noble Discoverer’s smokestacks just before noon Friday. Shell didn’t call local firefighters, who responded as a precaution without boarding the rig.

“Upon engine start up in Dutch Harbor, Alaska this morning the Noble Discoverer experienced a loud engine backfire followed by a small, residual fire that was quickly extinguished by the crew,” Smith said in a Friday statement. “The Discoverer was never in danger and there are no injuries. The Noble Discoverer remains on schedule to depart for Seward, Alaska in the very near future.”

Smith likens the explosion to a car backfiring, caused by an imbalance of fuel and air, and says the incident is under investigation. Crews are checking to see if any equipment was damaged. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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