Kulluk Grounding Hearings Conclude in Alaska, But Investigation Continues
A Coast Guard formal marine casualty investigation hearing, investigating the contributing causes that led to the conical drilling unit Kulluk grounding on Sitkalidak Island Dec. 31, 2012, concluded at Loussac Library in Anchorage Thursday.
Testimony gathered during the nine-day public hearing will be reviewed and added to the ongoing formal marine casualty investigation. The investigative hearings are an essential part of the investigation process, which provides a forum for the investigating officer to collect first-hand and professional information regarding the incident.
During the hearing, witnesses from the Coast Guard, Shell, Noble Drilling, GL Noble Denton, Offshore Rig Mover’s International, Crowley, Edison Chouest Offshore and Delmar Systems were called to testify about the facts and circumstances surrounding the grounding of the Kulluk.
Coast Guard Cmdr. Joshua McTaggart, investigating officer, Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise, conducted the hearings as part of his ongoing investigation. He is scheduled to submit a written report of the investigation, which will include findings of facts, conclusions and recommendations, to Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District, who ordered the formal marine casualty investigation. The report is scheduled for delivery in early July, but the investigating officer can ask for extra time as needed.
Ostebo will use the findings and recommendations in the report to determine whether additional measures are required to prevent similar marine casualties and what, if any, actions need to be taken to promote safety of life and property at sea.
The Coast Guard conducts investigations following marine casualties to determine the causal and contributing factors that led to the incident. This allows the Coast Guard to potentially save lives and protect the environment by identifying what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future.
Marine casualty investigations are very thorough and usually take several months to complete.