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Ship towing drilling rig had 'slime' in fuel, main engineer says

May 24, 2013 at 3:58 PM   |   Comments

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. Coast Guard panel investigating the grounding of a drilling rig in Alaska heard testimony from an engineer who blamed a tow ship's diesel fuel supply.

The inquiry concerns the towing of the drilling rig Kulluk, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, which ran aground Dec. 31, 2012, when the 365-foot towing ship Aiviq experienced an engine failure, the (Anchorage, Alaska) Daily News reported Friday.

Carl Broekhuis, the ship's main engineer, said Thursday, the fourth day of an anticipated 10-day hearing, the ship's four engines failed because of a problem with the fuel that materialized in the form of "slime."

"It wasn't just slime. There was something else on it. It was something that was unexplained," Broekhuis said as he explained a photograph of a fuel filter covered in an oily substance, part of the Coast Guard's evidence.

His account provided the most direct explanation, thus far, that the fuel was the cause of the engine problems, the newspaper said.

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