Not a good end to 2012 or start to 2013 for Shell Alaska.


Not a good end to 2012 or start to 2013 for Shell Alaska.

That drifting drill ship they've been trying to move broke loose from tow vessels during a severe storm, and ran aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island.

Shell's unified command center says the Kulluk grounded around 9 p.m. Monday.

It says the crew of a tug boat had been ordered to separate from it earlier in the night out of safety of its crew members.

The Kulluk is one of two Shell drill ships that operated in U.S. Arctic waters in 2012. It had been under tow by a tug and a 360–foot anchor handler before it broke loose earlier Monday night.

The vessel first separated from a towing vessel Thursday night south of Kodiak Island.

Repeated attempts to control it in the rough North Pacific have been unsuccessful.

Officials say two aircraft that flew over the ship yesterday have not seen any signs that the vessel is leaking fuel or that its hull had been breached.

The Kulluk is carrying 150,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.

When the storm eases and weather permits, the plan is to get marine experts onboard the Kulluk to take photos and videos, and then come up with a more complete salvage plan.