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Coast Guard to investigate Shell vessel grounding

Dan Joling, Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- The Coast Guard commander overseeing the Alaska district says he's ordering a formal marine casualty investigation into circumstances involving the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling vessel.

The Kulluk (KULL'-uk) ran aground New Year's Eve on a remote Alaska island near Kodiak Island.

Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo (OSS'-teh-boe) says in an announcement that a formal marine casualty investigation is convened when a vessel casualty has considerable regional significance or is the best means to assess technical issues that may have contributed to the incident.

The investigation will be supported by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Ostebo says the investigation likely will take several months.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced Tuesday he will hold a hearing to investigate the grounding.