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Coast Guard evacuates crew of troubled oil drilling barge
U.S. Coast Guard helicopters were evacuating the crew of a troubled oil drilling barge off the coast of southern Alaska Saturday afternoon after engine troubles on its tow vessel had left the barge drifting toward landfall south of Kodiak Island.

The move followed a tense night, when high seas and heavy winds prevented any evacuation and left Coast Guard officials worried that the Kulluk rig, which was returning from a season of offshore drilling in the Arctic, could run aground if the situation were not brought under control.

“The weather on scene is testing the limits of our Coast Guard crews. The professionalism of our air crews and cutter men and women have prevented the situation from deteriorating further,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau, Alaska.

On Saturday afternoon, engineers were able to restart the last of the four engines on the Aiviq towing vessel and also attach a line from a second ship brought in by Shell Alaska, the Nanuq.

The armada of three was steaming slowly southward, away from land, and Shell engineers were attempting to decide the best nearby harbor in which to shelter and reassess.
read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-shell-oil-drilling-20121229,0,3435470.story

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