Drilling Rig Adrift off the Alaskan Coast

As crews face hurricane-force winds, the Shell-owned rig has again broken towlines.

An unmanned oil rig is adrift again off the coast of Alaska. The rig, owned by Royal Dutch Shell, lost towlines attached to two vessels attempting to hold the rig in place Sunday afternoon. The vessels were working against strong winds and high seas.

The crew was evacuated for safety reasons prior to the rig, the Kulluk, breaking from towlines around 1 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the two vessels on the scene, the Aiviq and Nanuq, two other vessels have arrived at the rig's location, one Shell-contracted ship and another emergency response vessel.

Currently, crews await a break in the hurricane-level winds to secure the towlines again. If not prevented, the Kulluk will eventually crash into the Alaskan shore.

The previous break from towlines occurred Thursday. Eighteen crew members were evacuated from the $290 million drilling rig.

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