January 11th, 2012
08:52 AM ET

Ice stops progress of Alaska fuel convoy

The Coast Guard icebreaker and Russian fuel tanker trying to resupply icebound Nome, Alaska, made no progress on Tuesday, a Coast Guard spokesperson said early Wednesday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis confirmed an online report from Alaska Dispatch that the Russian-flagged fuel tanker, the Renda, only advanced about 50 feet on Tuesday. That was in stark contrast to what the Renda and the icebreaker, the Coast Guard cutter Healy, did on Monday, when they battled through 50 miles of the ice-covered Bering Sea.

The ships are about 100 miles from Nome, a town of 3,600 on Alaska's western coast.

“Tough sledding. Healy is trying to free Renda right now from an ice ridge,” Carter Whalen, president of Alaska Marine Pilots, told Alaska Dispatch in an email. The pilot aboard the Renda, Pete Garay, confirmed the situation.

The two-ship convoy carrying 1.3 million gallons of fuel had hoped to make it to Nome by late Thursday or early Friday, but that was before Tuesday's standstill.

The Sitnasuak Native Corp. of Nome contracted the Renda to deliver the fuel after ice formed over the Bering Sea in the wake of a ferocious November storm that prevented the last delivery of the season via barge.

It is the first attempt to supply fuel to an Arctic Alaska settlement through sea ice.

Nome is in no immediate danger of running out of fuel, Coast Guard Capt. Craig Lloyd, who is coordinating the mission, said earlier. The town has enough fuel to last until about March, but the delivery was attempted now because it would have been even more difficult then, he said.

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Filed under: Alaska • U.S. Coast Guard • Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. LKinAK

    Alaska is also not the biggest welfare state... That would be California. Followed by Maine.. Alaska doesn't even fall in the Top 15.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. kristy bohling

    Alaska is a tough place to be and you gotta be tough as nails to survive it. try bringing home a new baby when its 52 below zero. could you survive that day in and day out for months on end? didnt think so most of you would never try. alaska only has a few major accessible cities by road fairbanks and anchorage being the only ones with everything you need. people drive hundreds of miles to see a doctor, get groceries, buy clothingetc. fred meyers and sams fly orders out. try that for grocery shopping

    January 12, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      And your point? No one makes people live there so why the bragadocious statements?

      January 12, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. kristy bohling

    The people of alaska are amazing. never afraid to stop and help you out if you break down or get stuck. alaskans are friendly and unassuming and extremely tough. we will chew you up and spit you out anyday. and we are armed not so much to protect us from people but from wildlife. ever encounter a p*ss*d off cow moose with her calf? talk about a rude wake up call. had one outside my house cuz of stupid tourists chasing her taking pictures, she shuld have stomped them.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Please stop posting, your starting to sound like an idiot...

      January 12, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • brillow

      duh yea ok. please stop posting. you ARE an idiot.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Marvelous

    I believe Alaska is approximately half the size of the US mainland and it has so many natural resources and breathtaking valleys and mountains. I wonder what Russia was thinking when they sold Alaska to the US. Then again, Russia is three times the size of the US so perhaps they felt they needed to get rid of some land. Well good, we'll take Alaska. Hahahahaha!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Alaska is roughly twice the size of Texas which means it is not half the size of mainland America. It is huge but your statement is rediculous.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Oilexecutive001

    More fuel storage capacity might be a good idea for the future.
    Just a wacky suggestion.

    January 12, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • A Nomeite

      dang! Why didn't we think of that! Storage capacity – yes.*

      *(you do realize that all the storage capacity in the world doesn't make fuel materialize spontaneously, right? You still have to deliver it. Duh)

      January 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richard

    Why was the icebreaker next to the tanker in the first picture? Shouldn't the tanker be following the icebreaker (like a car would follow a snow plow)? I trust they know what they're doing, but I'm curious as to why the ships were situated like that.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • ks

      If you go to adn.com you can see the progress and explainations of why they are doing this. They have some awesome pictures and web cams on the USGC Healy 🙂

      January 12, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • reen

      The Healy first clears a path in front of the tanker, then comes back and clears a "relief channel" alongside the tanker sso that the ice doesn't cause pressure on the sides of the tanker as it begins forward progress.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. RodRoderick

    instead of trying to get federal funded pipes south of Alaska, perhaps Alaska should find a way to source it's own problems over land instead of by Sea. I hope wherever this fuel is coming from – the private corporation is at least paying the tab on the Coast Guard expense for this.

    January 12, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. nodak12

    I thought Arctic ice was supposed to be disappearing at "alarming" rates.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • sw

      I guess they found it...

      January 12, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • irunner

      The arctic ice is, on average, getting smaller each year. Technically, this is the Bering Sea. Seasonal ice varies considerably. Can we assume you are a global warming denier?

      January 12, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JoeT

      Currently it's been disappearing during the summer months, receding to levels never recorded before, and at an increasing rate. But you have to take note that the observations and compared are for the summer. Currently, it is winter in the arctic.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Merkat

      I knew I shouldn't have been racing my car this summer-look at all of the ice it created....

      January 12, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Don't Retreat - Reload

    See, there are a whole lot more important people in Alaska than Sara Palin.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Wow, very clever post there. Did you sit in front of you computer long before you came up with it?

      January 12, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Marvelous


    Thanks for the geographic info on Alaska!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Don't Retreat - Reload

    Yea, it took a while for me to come up with that post. Now I have a headache.

    January 12, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Amused

    I guess the tanker's captain believed the hype about global warming getting rid of the icecaps.... oops, looks like he learned a big lesson!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. JoeT

    Hopefully we've paced a call to the Russians to get one of the nuke-icebreakers on site.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    Whenever I think of Alaska, I think of Sarah Palin. Whenever I think of Sarah Palin, I think of teabaggers. Whenever I think of teabaggers, I think of nascar. Whenever I think of nascar, I think of trailer trash. Whenever I think of trailer trash, I think of Sarah Palin. Whenever I think of Sarah Palin, I think of .... etc., etc., etc.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rachalb Guererof

    hi!,I really like your writing very much! percentage we be in contact more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. May be that's you! Looking ahead to peer you.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
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