Controversial Artic Drilling Rig Noble Discoverer Coming To Port Of Everett Next Week

May 6, 2015

Everett, Everett Economy

Editor’s Update 5:00pm: Today (May 7th) The Port of Everett released this notice and also posted it on their Port of Everett website.

Dear members of the community:

Noble Discoverer

We typically don’t provide updates on ship and cargo movements at the Port of Everett; however, we wanted you to be aware of an unusual looking ship that is expected to arrive in Port sometime next week.

We have been notified that the drill ship Noble Discoverer (pictured) will be making a brief stop at the Port of Everett to load/unload some cargo. In the past few months, we have had six support vessels call Port. The Port of Everett has been supporting Alaska energy cargoes for nearly five years, as the types of cargoes are consistent with our cargo focus of supporting the manufacturing, construction and energy sectors.

We are one of several ports in Washington state that are supporting cargo loading and logistics efforts for the offshore oil exploration efforts in Alaska. The economic impacts of this activity are significant. At the Port of Everett alone, this activity is will support 78-83 direct jobs, and a total of between 169-227 total jobs for our area. It would generate $12.8 million in local purchases, and support $1.1 million in state and local taxes.

For more information, please contact Lisa Lefeber, Director of Strategic Communications and Policy, by e-mail at

Noble Discoverer

Photo credit: By James Brooks [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Original story as posted May 6th…There’s been a lot of controversy over the Shell drilling rig Polar Pioneer coming to Seattle for servicing at Terminal 5. Our news partner The Seattle Times has a good overview of that issue here. That rig is currently in Port Angeles awaiting transit to Seattle.

On Monday, asked Lisa Lefeber at the Port of Everett via email if the Polar Pioneer would come to Everett or if other support ships would be coming here as they have in the past. Here is her response…

Everett was evaluated as one of the locations for the Polar Pioneer a while back, along with other ports in Washington and Alaska, but as I am sure you have seen, the decision was made to send it to Seattle.

As for support vessels, the logistics chain has been pretty fluid, but the following vessels are what we have had/have at the Port of Everett this season.

Ross Chouest
Harvey Supporter
Harvey Champion
Harvey Explorer

If any other vessels get confirmed to our schedule I will let you know.

Tonight got a follow-up email from Lefeber advising that a drilling rig has been added to the list…

I told you I would let you know if things changed. And I just got confirmation that the the Noble Discoverer is scheduled to make a brief stop in Everett next week to load/unload cargo. We haven’t received the berth request yet, so don’t have many details, but I wanted you to know.

The Noble Discoverer, is a ship shaped drilling rig with its own history of controversy. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Noble Drilling which owns the ship, agreed to plead guilty to 8 felony counts and pay a $12.2 million dollar fine after multiple problems were found during inspections. Here’s an excerpt from the Justice Department Press Release detailing some of the problems…

Noble had problems managing the bilge and wastewater that was accumulating in the engine room spaces of the Noble Discoverer. This and other conditions led to a number of problems. Noble devised a makeshift barrel and pump system to discharge water that had entered the vessel’s engine room machinery spaces directly overboard from the Noble Discoverer without processing it through the required pollution prevention equipment as required by law. Noble failed to notify the Coast Guard about this system, and took steps to actively hide the fact that it was being used. These false and missing record entries and the use of the illegal overboard discharge system all violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

In the factual basis of the plea agreement, Noble also admits that it negligently discharged machinery space bilge water from the Noble Discoverer into Broad Bay, Unalaska, on July 22, 2012. While anchored in Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer’s bilge holding tank 27S overflowed and went overboard, creating a sheen in Broad Bay.

Environmental groups have scheduled protests for May 16th – 18th at the Port of Seattle including drills with kayaks as reported here in The Seattle Times. There is no word so far if any of the protesters will come to Everett in opposition of the Noble Discoverer coming here.

The Port visit by the drilling rig and other support ships is good financial news for longshore and shipyard workers at the Port of Everett and the local Everett businesses that supply and support the various operations at the Port.


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