Shell vessel re-anchors after moving toward shore

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A Shell Oil drilling vessel slipped it anchorage Saturday and began moving toward shore in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before it was re-anchored, the Coast Guard said.

The Nobel Discoverer got within 500 feet of an island near Dutch Harbor in Unalaska Bay, raising concerns of grounding.

The 571-foot vessel was moved farther off shore and re-anchored, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sara Francis said.

“They (crew members) did not feel any bumps, or that it touched anything,” she said. “There were no reports of any injuries, pollution or damage to the vessel.”

Shell Oil plans to have divers examine the ship’s hull Sunday, Francis said. The Coast Guard continues to monitor the situation.

The Coast Guard said that the ship is not reporting that it ran aground.

“While moored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast. One of Shell’s vessels, the Lauren Foss, then safely towed the Discoverer to its prior mooring position,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in a statement.

Francis said a soft seabed that allowed the ship to drag its anchor and winds of up to 35 mph probably contributed to the problem.

The area of the island the vessel approached is uninhabited and not far from Dutch Harbor, about 600 miles southwest of Kodiak.

The Nobel Discoverer is one of two Shell ships that will drill exploratory oil wells in the Arctic waters of Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Leading national conservation groups oppose the drilling oppose the drilling because they fear oil spills in ice-choked ocean waters. But the Interior Department has given the go-ahead.

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