Alaska winter will challenge Shell ship salvage

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A veteran marine salvager says it could take until spring to remove a grounded oil-drilling ship from rocks near a remote Alaska island.

A Royal Dutch Shell barge called the Kulluk ran aground during a fierce year-end storm, and more than 600 people are working on its recovery. But Dan Magone, who has worked on other major groundings in Alaska, says he’d be surprised if they can remove it before spring due to the fury of the North Pacific winter.

Smit Salvage, the Dutch company hired to salvage the Kulluk, referred calls to Shell, which has said it’s too early to predict when the barge might be moved.

Shell has reported superficial damage above the deck, but there’s no sign the hull has been breached or that oil has spilled.

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