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Coast Guard Concludes Hearing into Kulluk Grounding

The Coast Guard says testimony taken during the formal marine causalty investigation hearing, held in the city Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library, may lead to anything from new industry requirements to criminal charges.

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May 30, 2013|By Dan Carpenter | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Coast Guard has wrapped up its investigative hearing into the grounding of the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk, after nine days of testimony in Anchorage from key industry and government professionals.

On Thursday, the investigating panel looked into how Shell calculates risks before towing one of its vessels.

Jonathan Wilson, who managed the recovery tow of the Kulluk from Kiliuda Bay to Dutch Harbor in February, spoke over the phone from London. Wilson says the job was considered a “critical tow” due to a number of factors, including the state of the rig after it was damaged during its Dec. 31 grounding on Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak.

The Coast Guard says testimony taken during the formal marine causalty investigation hearing, held in the city Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library, may lead to anything from new industry requirements to criminal charges.

A lot of the discussion with Shell had to do with procedure, as Coast Guard Cmdr. Josh McTaggart did much of Wilson’s questioning.

“As you conducted the review, are you aware of any previous risk assessments for the Kulluk?” McTaggart asked.

“I believe there was one done — I don’t remember seeing it,” Wilson replied.

The testimony will now be compiled and given to Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard’s 17th District in Alaska, who may decide on new rules or charges as early as the first week of July.

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