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360-foot icebreaker christened in Louisiana

Posted: March 26, 2012 - 12:02am

PORT FOURCHON, La. — The largest, most advanced ship ever built by Edison Chouest Offshore will soon leave south Louisiana for Alaska.

Elizabeth Itta, a 12-year-old from the North Alaskan city of Nuiqsut, christened the 360-foot-long icebreaker, the Courier (http://bit.ly/H6ucQH) reported.

She won an essay contest to name the ship. Her choice was “Aiviq,” which means “walrus” in the Inupiat language.

Aiviq was christened Saturday at Port Fourchon. In weeks, its crew will head for Alaska, where Shell Oil Co. has tentative approval to drill four exploratory wells in July.

Shell awarded the contract for the Arctic supply vessel in 2009 in anticipation of the recently won permits.

The ship can hold 10,000 barrels of oil. Its heavy steel hull is designed to cut through thick ice.

The $200 million ship is longer, wider and deeper than any other Edison Chouest has constructed.

Chouest said the Shell contract helped support the company and local economy throughout the past two years as activity slowed in the Gulf after the 2010 BP oil spill and subsequent federal ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf.

“This was huge,” he said.

Bill Soplu, a 26-year-old Aiviq crew member from northwest Alaska, said he is excited to depart on the new ship. During his 60-day tour on the ship, Soplu will do just about anything needed.

“I saw this boat being built in the shipyards,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable.”

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