The New York Times had an interesting article a few days ago about the mistakes made in the towing of the Kulluk, a huge oil drilling rig, by a very large tow boat, the Aivik. The Kulluk was being towed from the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska towards its intended destination in Seattle when the tow line snapped, the Aivik's engines shutdown and the Kulluk washed up onto the shore on Kodiak Island in a storm and was destroyed. The incident occurred a couple of years ago.
Here are some of the mistakes made by Shell and its contractors. These all have some relevance to us recreational boaters. Here is a link to the NY Times article- http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/ma...lbias%3Ar&_r=0
* The Kulluk after attempting drilling in the Beaufort Sea had to be out of Alaskan waters by January 1 or face some ten million dollars in Alaskan taxes, thus the tow during the winter.
* The Kulluk which was under tow and was not operational was staffed with a dozen or so crew men because of some arcane regulation in the Marshall Islands where it was registered.
* As a result the course to Seattle followed the Alaskan shoreline so as to be in range of US Coast Guard rescue helicopters if necessary. The more direct course was shorter and safer because it was away from shore.
* The tow line parted on several occasions due to a force of more than 300 tons as a result of a storm.
* The tow line was temporarily spliced using a bow line that took almost an hour and several men to tie on the tow boat's deck.
* The tow boat's diesel tanks were supposed to have their vents raised to prevent seawater intrusion but for some reason were not.
* Sea water did get in and shut down all four engines- 4,000 KW each allowing the Kulluk to drift towards Kodiak Island.
* The US Coast Guard rescued the oil rig's crewmen. All were safe.
* New injectors for the damaged engines were flown by private plane and helicopter to the stricken tow boat.
* Another tug from Valdez was dispatched to help, but had to cut the tow line to keep from getting washed ashore on Kodiak Island. The Kulluk did wash ashore and was wrecked.
* The Kulluk was later salvaged and cut up for scrap.
The moral of the story for us recreational boaters: learn to tie a bowline in wire cable and keep spare injectors on board.