The drilling rig KULLUK was built in 1983 by the Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company Ltd in Tamano, Japan. KULLUK, whose name means “Thunder” in the Inuvialuit language, was first operated by Gulf Canada Resources, Inc. in the Canadian arctic. She was tended there by two specially designed ice breaking tug support vessels the IKALUK and MISCAROO operated by the Beau-Drill Limited Partnership which was a subsidiary of Gulf. At the time they were built all of these vessels represented the latest cutting edge technology for arctic oil exploration. KULLUK’s design is described as an Earl & Wright/Sedco Arctic Drilling Vessel inverted, truncated, conically shaped, ice-strengthened hull. That is to say her hull is shaped like a bowl so that as ice presses in around her, she simply rides up on top of the ice rather than being crushed or penetrated by it. She is admeasured at 27,968 gross tons and 8391 net tons. The KULLUK first came to Alaska in September 1988 when she drilled an exploratory well for the Amoco Production Company at the Belcher Prospect in the Beaufort Sea in 167 feet of water. In 1992 and 1993, she drilled four exploratory wells for Arco Alaska at the Kuvlum and Wild Weasel Prospects offshore of ANWR. After that the rig was stacked for fourteen years in McKinley Bay near Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The rig was purchased by Shell Offshore Incorporated of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005 and spent the next year being refurbished where she had been stacked in Canada. The rig is capable of drilling in 400 to 600 feet of water to depths of 20,000 feet. Her derrick measures 160 feet tall by 40 x 40 at the base with a 1,250,000 pound capacity. The rig’s power is provided by three General Motors EMD diesel generators rated at 2816 horsepower each. She has quarters onboard for 108 personnel. The almost-circular main deck is 274 feet long and has a beam of 227 feet. When originally built the rig had been registered in Canada. Later she was reflagged to the Liberian flag, however, Shell has replaced that flag and registered the rig in the Marshall islands. Shell had plans to use the KULLUK to drill again in the Beaufort Sea, but environmental concerns caused delays with that program. In September 2010, the KULLUK was towed out of Canadian water and brought to Dutch Harbor and anchored in Captains Bay by the ice breaking tug supply vessel TOR VIKING II. An existing dock at the OSI facility in Captains Bay was modified with a curved face to fit her hull so that the KULLUK can moor there. In December 2010, KULLUK was moved there awaiting a new drilling assignment. Photo by Brett Farrell Marine Exchange of Alaska . . .