January 10th, 2012
11:22 AM ET

Icebreaker, fuel tanker close in on icebound Alaskan town

A Coast Guard icebreaker and a tanker carrying 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products could arrive in icebound Nome, Alaska, as early as Thursday, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The Sitnasuak Native Corp. of Nome contracted the double-hulled, Russian-flagged tanker Renda to deliver the fuel products to the community of 3,600 on Alaska's west coast after a ferocious November storm prevented the last delivery of the season via barge and ice formed over the Bering Sea.

The U.S. Coast Guard's only operating Arctic icebreaker, the cutter Healy, is escorting the fuel tanker through the ice-covered waters in the first-ever attempt to supply fuel to an Arctic Alaska settlement through sea ice.

The two-ship convoy was 97 miles from Nome early Tuesday, Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, told CNN.

The Healy battled through 50 miles of ice Monday, she said, stopping for crew rest and maintenance around 7:30 p.m. The journey was to resume at 7 a.m. local time Tuesday.

During the journey, the Healy has broken through ice ridges as high as 4 feet and plate ice up to 2 feet thick, Coast Guard Capt. Craig Lloyd, who is coordinating the mission, told CNN.

Francis said unmanned aircraft from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks equipped with ground-penetrating radar had flown over the ice, between the ships and Nome, and determined it was thinner than what the ships had been through so far.

The ships will have to break through about 300 miles of ice during the complete journey, the Coast Guard said.

The tanker will get to within about a half-mile of Nome harbor and transfer the fuel stocks to on-shore storage by hose, the Coast Guard said.

The cutter Healy was scheduled to return to its homeport of Seattle in December, but its mission was extended by several weeks to facilitate the fuel delivery.

Lloyd said Nome had enough fuel to last until about March, but the delivery was attempted now because it would have been even more difficult then.

There is no way to deliver fuel by land to Nome. If the Renda does not make it to Nome, officials would have to consider flying in fuel, an expensive proposition in a town where gas sells for almost $6 a gallon.

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Filed under: Alaska • Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. JuneCleaversBeaver

    Oil being brought in by a Russian flagged tanker? Does anyone find that odd?

    January 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • mchilcote

      However it has to get there from whoever. Some of these cold people are elderly and/or children

      January 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      No. The U.S. & NATO hire Russian cargo craft to fly in military supplies to Afghanistan and U.S. companies hire them to fly military orders such as helicopters all the time.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zena

      Russia is only about three miles from Alaska. It makes perfect sense.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      No Zena, Alaska is nowhere near Russia(according to people like Mike and Edward) Evidently Google Earth access is beyond their capability.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • pmn

      Not at all. Russia is closer to AK than US.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      No. I would find it odd if it was a Middle Eastern tanker.

      January 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. I can see Russian tanker from my house

    If the righties complain about socialism, they should complain about this as well. We spend a disproportionate amount of tax dollars in helping people living in remote areas – whether it is the coast guard icebreaker or the bridge to nowhere, or the federal subsidies to telecom and airline industries to serve these areas.

    But the only time it is called socialism when it helps inner city black people.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      beautifully put.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • pimpin

      It's mostly native people living out in these areas of Alaska. They are not tax paying citizens either. But we did take over there land that we bought from Russia, so we do owe them in the sense that Americans try to help each other. A Russian vessel is the only oil tanker in the area at this time of year as well, so it has to be a Russian tagged something seeing that the US oil tankers do not operate up there, most US tankers are headed to SE Asia not the Arctic...

      January 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ikramerica

      Which 'righties' are excited about this? Which righties are saying how great this is? Nice straw man argument...

      The people of Nome should pay for this fuel delivery.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal

      We will have to pay out of our own pockets for someone's mess up, be it the fuel company or the native corp, we will pay... at least $7-8 a gallon for heating fuel now, maybe up to $9 a gallon. The temps have been reaching -50 below zero, record low temps for Nome, AK this time of the year.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • scranton

      Amazing story and pictures. Who would of thought people would be making idiotic political talking points?

      January 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoRemoteKCl

      Dopey, learn what socialism is......Basic Gov't services, that ALL forms of Gov't provide, is not socialism. The military, including the coast guard, police, fire departments, roads, etc, is not socialism. The Gov't paying people just to exist, and have children, lending money, owning or operating the means of production is socialism.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Hey Pimpin. STFU. I am a white american-tax paying male living in Nome. Nome is half white and half native and the natives work and contribute to society. Book a flight to Alaska and come live the land and understand it for yourself. Oh yeah, that fuel you put in your car and the gold you wear also might come from Alaska.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat?

      First off, US tax payers only pay to help get the ship there, since its a US Coast Guard ship, thats where the buck stops. A Company hired the ship, NOT the US. Besides, look at your own state before commenting on another and better yet, alaska has helped more of the lower 48 than the 48 has helped alaska! Bunch of .......

      January 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Yep! Isn't it funny / irronic that the Republican right always bashes Socialism except when THEY'RE people are in need. Even though we are social creatures by nature and now are expending a lot of energy just for the few white people living in Alaska. But the only time it is called socialism when it helps inner city black people or the poor. What a great example of Irony!

      January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal

      Ditto Ryan!

      January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zena

      Pimpin, Alaska Natives pay taxes, too, just like everybody else. And perhaps you should read the beginning of the article again...the fuel tanker was contracted by a Native corporation. But they're not complaining about helping out the non-Native population of Nome, are they? Try getting a bit of education before you make yourself look even more stupid.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Yes, Edward. Beautifully put and completely inaccurate...

      January 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy

      Mo-ron..... the coast guard is NOT socialism.
      What's more "Righty" then then supporting the sudo-military.
      The only thing I have a problem with is Nomes poor planning.
      Build some tanks and make sure you get some fuel in August!
      It's not like this was unforeseeable!

      January 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • pmn

      Right on Ryan! Unless you all have live or lived in AK you really have no opinion to offer because you do not have any facts. You ever hear walk a day in my shoes. Get a clue!

      January 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      How about we just help our own citizens just becaust it's the right thing to do. I'm sick and tired of hearing how no one wants "their" tax dollars helping out anyone else. Well, you know what? Karma's a b i* t c h

      January 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Fuelman

    The US government should consider buying this fuel for them and then subsidizing fuel for all Americans. Drive the price to zero, providing strong support for the economy, through tax credits or direct rebates (or maybe just free gas at all pumps). Gas is going to get more expensive as the world places increasing demand on dwindling stocks, so we should think about progressive policies like this to help lead America into the future before supplies run out. When it's all gone, we can buy renewable technologies from other countries, possibly funded by borrowing money from those same countries. Then we can turn on the printing presses and inflate our way out of any debt. I'm not sure what comes after that, but this seems like a good plan for the short term.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • P.Y

      You are not sure what will come after?How about World war 3 ?

      January 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat?

      rofl, this is your thought? well, not yours since its already been said many times before....BUT the reason is, you would be taxed so much that you wouldnt want to use the darn fuel..THATS why the government wont buy the fuel and give it out....

      You do know the government is in big time debt, right? what you think would happen?? Government dont make oil...The US, even if we tapped every place in the country, theres not enough of oil within our lands cause we use too much! Think about it when you're speeding....every drop counts....

      January 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy

      You do realize the "U.S. Government" is you and me (assuming you live in the U.S.)
      You must be a liberal to think that the Gov. can just buy things for you and their is no repercussions.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • wootdude

      Actually, I am pretty sure he is a conservative who is being pretty sarcastic with his remark. You guys take things too serious.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chris

    And I thought $3 a gallon was expensive.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tim

    Isn't alaska still permitted to hunt and utilize whale blubber? Mostly big business and government agencies and or workers for scientific missions are in alaska. Eskimos can handle themselves..oh I forgot just like the indians are kind government has them dependant on us..take away their land and way of life, keep them poor and dependant on good ole us of a

    January 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • pimpin

      i agree with Tim

      January 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      You can agree with Tim all you want but you're both wrong LMAO Don't you do ANY research or do you all just spout off BS as it rolls through your tiny brain?

      January 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • pmn

      Dude really..here's your sign! So utterly clueless. Yes, they can still live off the land. The Eskimos are still Americans and are subject to as many benefits as the rest of us. The state of Alaska takes care of the natives so you don't worry your pretty little head about it, ok?

      January 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • wootdude

      Umm, Tim, even if they are allowed to hunt whale, if an icebreaker has to bust through 300 miles of ice to get to Nome, how do you expect the Nomeans? to reach the un-iced water?

      January 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ssiajorge washinsen

    Global warming is tough this year it seems.Co-operation can get a lot of things done.I still think Russia will be good friend to us in the future.We need to join now to prevent the disease of terrorism changing the world.We fought one great battle together.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Looking forward to global warming up here....-24 yesterday. LOL Ya gotta love or you won't stay. Doesn't affect the libs. They all huddle up in Anchorage anyway....LMAO

      January 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nome Alaska gal

    BTW... We are tax paying citizens of the USA. What is wrong with you people with the judgements. You need to walk a mile in our shoes and see what real life really is.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      WE get it!! Why can't you use your paycheck from Sarah Palin from the oil subsidies to pay back the rest of us for the cost of this fuel trek? Oh ya don't want to use YOUR money!?!? We get it now!

      January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Giddyup girl! Bunch of Outside know-it-alls on here.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Mike. Here's a little proverb for ya.

      Better to remain silent and be htought a fool, than open your mouth(or keyboard) and remove all doubt.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal

      Sarah Palin doesn't work here anymore. HA. TG. Didn't you hear, she quit ? LOL.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • pmn

      Mike really don't argue with Alaskan women..they hold their own. You go girl!

      January 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Mike. A company in Nome bought and paid for this fuel. Not the US. They had fuel thru March but bought an earlier delivery in case it was bad weather in March. As far as the Coast Guard Cutter. It is US military and it's job is to help off the coasts of the US. No pay back there. So what's your beef. Alaska is not a poor state like some in the lower 48. They pay their way. You need to read and learn.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      It is a lot clearer now why the country is so messed up.Many seem to not know there is a frozen North and we have citizens working it, and living in it. A big portion of the food we eat comes from those cold waters if it is seafood.

      January 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ronster

    II think I want to live on the moon. Will the US government bring food, oxygen, and fuel to me? Oh, and beer and girls. Lots of beer and girls. The good stuff.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gix

    Ice Age 5?

    January 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      GIX! DO NOT LOOK AT THOSE PHOTOS!!! There is no sea ice, remember? Not in the Bering, Chukchi, OR the Beaufort....HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

      January 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AKmember

    The ignorance about Alaska is staggering most of America probably still thinks Ak is off the coast of California, oh and by the way we pay taxes like every other American...

    January 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Amen brother. A lot of dim-witted folks from the lower 48 on here. BTW, looks like the blizzard is over here on the peninsula. ell, the Kenai area at least.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan Guy

      And yet I don't know how many times I've been told we won't ship to Alaska because it's not part of the CONTINENTAL (they really mean contiguous) United States or that a Lower 48 merchant won't take our FOREIGN currency!

      January 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sumguy

    He Nome....How about you build a few more storage tanks, and get your deliveries in August!

    January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Nomeite

      my word...storage tanks!! Summer delivery!! No shyte. WHY didn't we think of that! *smacks ice-encrusted forehead*

      January 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Soldotna, AK

    Seems I've been hearing all about how we have no sea ice up here for the last few years.....LMAO Hogwash!

    And amen on the straw man argument. Villages pay HUGE prices per gallon for fuel. Nome is a large town. Check the fuel price in Marshall or Nightmute or Eek. Try over $10/gal subsidy..NOT

    And natives do pay taxes. I see a lot of people on here commenting and they have NO IDEA what they're talking about.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      Liberals never use facts only speak what they glean off of the media.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Erik

    Why can't the aliens just bring them some fuel?

    January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Crazy Idea!! I know I know. How about stop exporting your oil and perhaps use some for yourselves? 🙂 Just a logical solution. There I go thinking again. Make sure you thank Sarah Palin!! Of course the oil companies wouldn't think of doing this. That would be common sense.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soldotna, AK

      Wow Mike, you really are a simpleton. You have no idea how the petroleum industry works do you?

      January 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • chelsea12345

      I guess you missed that excerpt in wikipedia where they explain that oil doesn't just come out of the ground and go into your car....

      January 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pmn

    *than US...I mean the lower 48.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
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