A report into the Coast Guard investigation into the Dec. 31 grounding of Royal Dutch Shell's drilling rig, the Kulluk, has been delayed more than six weeks and likely won't be released publicly until early next year, a spokesman said this week.
The lead investigator, Cmdr. Joshua McTaggart of the Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise in Louisiana, was granted an extension until Aug. 19, said Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow.
The investigative report, now nearly done, still must wind its way through the command structure.
In May, McTaggart led a nine-day hearing in Anchorage into the grounding. He said then his report was due July 5 to Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard in Alaska.
That deadline has been extended to Aug. 19, Wadlow said. Ostebo will review the report and make recommendations before sending it to Coast Guard headquarters. Another review will take place there, the spokesman said. He said formal marine casualty investigations are "a multi-step approach."
"Once Coast Guard headquarters completes their review they will issue the final report, which will be publicly available. Right now it is estimated that the final report will be released sometime early next year," Wadlow said in an email Monday.
He also said that the parties involved, including Shell, will not have an opportunity to review the report before it becomes public.
"Coast Guard policy prohibits the release of information regarding ongoing investigations," Wadlow wrote.
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By LISA DEMER