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Tow line tied to grounded oil rig barge

Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:21 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Crews trying to rescue an oil drilling rig barge grounded off an Alaska island attached a tow line to it Sunday evening, officials said.

Still to be determined, however, was exactly how the crews would inch the Royal Dutch Shell barge off the rocky shore of Sitkalidak Island without puncturing its fuel tanks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Once the 266-foot Kulluk is back afloat, the plan will be to pull it about 30 miles to Kiliuda Bay, the newspaper said.

The non-powered barge, which had just completed its first Arctic drilling expedition, broke free from a tow ship during a raging storm and ran aground Dec. 31. It has sustained some damage, though it's not leaking any fuel.

Response officials told the Times the Aiviq would be the ship towing the Kulluk. A 10-member recovery team is aboard the barge. Stephen Doolan, a spokesman for the government's response effort, said the decision when to attempt would be made to pull the barge free would be made by the crew on site.

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