Aiviq headed back to work?

Reminds me how Kigoriak spent years towing stuff back and forth across the Atlantic in the early 2000s:

However, I guess today there are so many un(der)employed AHTS vessels that hiring an icebreaker for such missions doesn’t really make sense.

Just a thought. I wonder if there is an issue with their other icebreaker, the R/V Nathaniel B Palmer, chartered by the NSF. Could the Aiviq be used as a replacement?

It is also an example of lack of oversight before that adventure started as well as a lack of accountability after the fact. What fines, license suspensions or other penalties were imposed? Not only for the Kullcuk mess but what about the Disco? Did any company or individual suffer any consequence beyond looking like fools and having their stock price go down? Perhaps they have but if so one would think that would be published in order to discourage such incompetence in the future. If anyone knows of the penalties for the planning and execution by Shell, Noble and Chouest, license suspensions by the USCG of the officers who went along with with this clusterfuck please share them.

Good luck on that Tengineer1. More than a few are now under the arms of the buffoonery of the parties of this shit show…

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Yes, money talks. Sadly oligarchy rules…

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Aiviq has been parked in Tampa at Tampa Shipyard for quite sometime. I’ve seen it a few times on various flights in/out of the area. Hard to imagine the fuel efficiency issue could be overcome for operations that are not what she was designed to handle. Failing her mission in Alaska or not, it would be ashame for such a new vessel to go to waste with very little nautical miles under her belt.

There are drillships costing many millions that were never used wasting away. In that context seeing the poorly designed Aviq be scrapped would be nothing.

My old company Ensco has 2 drill ship never used, they got $100 mill to cancel one contract the other was built on spec.

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Vessels built for ice have very thick hull plating, it is the energy needed to carry around this extra weight that makes them uneconomical in terms of fuel, need to burn a lot more fuel to move around a vessel with a hull built for ice than one built with a thin hull for warmer climates.

Never questioned why it burned so much fuel. I actually said the opposite.

I lived on the aiviq for a few days while waiting for a hurricane to blow over working at the yard. As a fresh 3/m she was super impressive/spacious to me. I remember walking around the wheelhouse not understanding half of the equipment. I was staying in the chief engineer cabin. Only 2 guys on the entire boat.

While additional steel weight makes ice-strengthened cargo ships less competitive in the market, it is not really an issue for “working ships” such as anchor-handlers. However, the open water resistance of an icebreaking hull form increases steeply as you get to double digits. Depending on the ship, you may also get additional penalty from ice-strengthened propellers, diesel-electric drivetrain etc.


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Shell has already paid for AIVIQ. Chouest probably doesn’t have much money in her.

Thus far, it appears they have chosen to mothball her until someone will pay the high $$$$$ price for an icebreaker, or until some other suitable job presents itself. They can probably afford to wait a very long time.

Towing very large vessels at 8 knots, or handling anchors, the extra steel and ice breaking hull form probably wouldn’t be too much of a competitive disadvantage.

Maybe a buyer or a suitable job is coming up for AIVIQ. It will be interesting to see where she goes.

Chouest has already done a tow or 2 for decommissioned air craft carriers from San Diego to Brownsville for recycling. Can’t imagine there are lots of opportunities for massive tows such as this right?

Besides rig moves, which seem to be almost nonexistent due to drill ships, what other large tow opportunities exist around the world?

These days most long distance towing is done by specialist log distance towing vessels such as the ALP Striker which has a 3,500t fuel capacity, it can tow for about 45 days without needing to bunker.

These specialist tow vessels with massive fuel capacities have hoovered up the long distance towing market to the detriment of traditional AHTS which have much lower fuel capacities, bunkering logistics used to be a big problem for long distance tows, you would need two two vessels and have to swap the tow while the other one bunkered etc. but not anymore with specialist vessels such as the ALP Striker that can down pretty much any tow non-stop.

the sad fact is that when designing the AIVIQ both Shell and ECO decided for the ship to be a one trick pony for the Arctic drilling program and did not seem to consider that the program might not succeed. In the end, they were left with a vessel with no alternative uses for it which could be economically employed hence ECO’s hamfisted attempts to force her down the throat of the USCG after 2015, why she has sat idle since and why I am skeptical about her going to work even now?

It was pretty much a repeat of the two BULLY drillships which had painfully short working lives before Noble had to concede there was no viable future for them and sent the pair to scrap. Shell simply was unable to grasp that what they were buying at highly inflated prices were pigs in a poke. When every one of us on the BULLY ships could see how hard it would be to actually do any drilling, Shell seemed to be oblivious to that. Of course, I can easily see how the AIVIQ ended up suffering the same unfortunate consequence.

But how could a huge corporation with Shell’s resources and long history of ship operations (afterall they started out as a tanker company and not as producers) fail to employ people who would ensure a better outcome for their massive investment?


Shell did not have clue about who to hire, or what skills and experience were necessary.

Hire Chouest to build an icebreaker for the first time down in the bayou?

The guy Shell hired as their “Ice Advisor” was a former USCG warrant officer. His only ice experience was on the Mississippi River. A former Master of the POLAR STAR or HEALY, or a Canadian, might have been a reasonable choice.

When we heard that Shell was sending the coonass navy to the Arctic, those of us in Alaska were horrified. Just about every Mariner in Alaska immediately predicted that it was going to be a total shitshow.

When Alaska Mariners inquired about jobs, Harvey and Chouest told most them the same thing. “We already have enough Alaska experience.”

KULLUK ON THE ROCKS speaks for itself.

The word along the waterfront in Alaska is that Shell did find billions of barrels of oil on the Berger Prospect. I have no idea whether that is true. Unfortunately, Shell and Chouest killed Arctic Alaska offshore drilling forever.


Not to defend Chouest or their performance in Alaska, but the Aiviq was not the first icebreaker Chouest built. The first was the Nathaniel B Palmer built in 1992.


Can you share a synopsis?

Looks like Aiviq has been out at sea since Friday.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up the other ship Edison Chouest built for Shell’s Alaska adventure. According to MarineTraffic, Nanuq has not transmitted an AIS signal since 2019…

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