Environmental campaign group Greenpeace says 13 of its activists have blocked Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig as it tries to leave Seattle for Arctic waters.
They have reportedly formed a blockade of kayaks outside Seattle port’s terminal five.
The US Coast Guard is believed to have taken some of the protestors out of the water.
The Polar Pioneer undocked from terminal five at 6am local time, with two tug boats in front of it.
Protesters had been alerted about its planned movements the night before, it is being reported.
The rig arrived in Seattle on May 14.
US regulators last month conditionally approved Shell’s proposals after concluding drilling would have no significant environmental impact on Alaska’s Arctic coast.
Shell ceased its work in the area in 2012 when its main drilling rig ran aground and was lost. It was also fined for air pollution violations.