The gleaming blue and white tug Aiviq cruised into Resurrection Bay on Wednesday, Feb 27 and tied up at the Alaska Railroad dock. Pronounced EYE-vik, the name means “walrus” in Inupiaq. This is the tug that suffered mechanical difficulties while towing Shell’s drilling rig Kulluk along the coast of Kodiak Island in late December.
What a massive tug! She dwarfs all of Seward’s fleet. According to Wikipedia, she’s 360 feet long and 80 feet wide. There’s room on the helideck for a Sikorsky S-92. She can run at 15 knots (17 mph) in open water, and 5 knots (5.8 mph) in 3 feet of level ice, and can pull 200 metric tons. She is also an ice breaker, designed and constructed for breaking ice to open navigable channels for other ships
Practically brand new, she was built in 2012 in Louisiana for $200 million. The vessel is designed for zero discharge (hear that, cruise ships???) with water-lubricated stem tubes and dual oily water separators and sewage plants. More information on-line at
Thursday, an even more massive ship, like a visitor from another world, anchored up in the inner bay. The somber gray Xiang Yun Kou is a semi-submersible, heavy lift vessel built in China in 2011. It is 709 feet long by 141 feet wide with an open cargo deck 584 feet long by 141 feet wide. More information on-line at http://www.cosco.com/en/news/detail.jsp?docId=18484.
Sometime soon, the Xiang Yun Kou will scoop up the drilling rig Noble Discoverer by adding ballast until it is below the draft of the drilling rig. Then tugs will push the drilling rig over the semi-submersible’s deck, the ballast will be discharged, and the tow vessel will rise up with the drill rig on its deck. It’s faster to carry it than to tow it across the North Pacific to a shipyard in Asia, probably South Korea, for repairs. The voyage will take 2 to 4 weeks. More information on line at
Submitted by Carol Griswold