A view of the Polar Pioneer piggybacking on the Blue Marlin across the Pacific Ocean.
A view of the Polar Pioneer piggybacking on the Blue Marlin across the Pacific Ocean. Vincenzo Floramo/Greenpeace

The first Shell Arctic drilling rig due in Seattle, the Polar Pioneer, won’t be arriving in our fair city for at least the next few weeks.

The Polar Pioneer, which is being carried across the Pacific by the Blue Marlin, is expected to arrive in Port Angeles on Friday, according to the US Coast Guard—and it will also be staying in Port Angeles until the end of April or into May.

The timeline isn't totally clear, and Shell has not responded to a request to clarify the dates.

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But here’s what we do know: Instead of mooring alongside a dock, the Blue Marlin will be staying at-anchor, or in the middle of the Port Angeles harbor. From there, the Coast Guard will assess safety measures on the Blue Marlin, and the Polar Pioneer will be unloaded from the ship. Some kind of work will be performed on the rig before it gets towed to Seattle. When that happens could depend on the weather and the nature of the work that needs to be done, Lieutenant Dana Warr, spokesperson for the US Coast Guard’s 13th District, said.

Seattle activists are currently prepping to greet Shell on the water when the rigs do arrive. It’s still an open question as to whether they’ll be able to muster a full “flotilla of kayaks”—as advertised by this blimp—by the time the Polar Pioneer gets to Seattle. This past weekend, an international team of Greenpeace volunteers had to decamp from the Polar Pioneer in the face of worsening weather at sea. A federal judge also granted a temporary restraining order over the weekend that keeps Greenpeace 1,000 meters away from Shell's Arctic fleet.

In light of some of those kayaking plans, the Coast Guard will also be establishing safety zones around Shell’s Arctic fleet. Tomorrow, the Coast Guard will brief media on what those safety zones will look like. If everyone stays safe, activists are able to express their opinions, and commerce continues to flow in and out of the ports, “we’ll consider that a success,” Warr said.

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