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. Pete/Ark

    WOW! One of the most oil-rich parts of the world has a fuel shortage ?!?!?!????

    January 11, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      The fuel is piped all the way from Alaska down to Louisiana for processing, and then has to be brought all the way back up. Rich is a relative term.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Roy

      Alaska oil is piped to Valdez and then shipped by tanker to refineries on the West Coast – Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay. There is no oil pipeline connecting Alaska to the lower 48. Companies have proposed a GAS pipeline from Alaska to the Lower 48 but that hasn't happened yet – blocked by major regulatory and economic challenges.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat?

      wow, just wow with some of the comments bout this story. people just dont have a clue or their just that st....

      January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob L

      Plenty of oil, but no refineries. Can't run much of anything on pure crude. Either way many cities in AK are isolated from the rest of AK particularly in the winter.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Chas

      Maybe Nome should be abandoned as a place of permanent residency !

      January 11, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Big Red

      @Chas. people have been living in Nome longer than Euro-trash have been living in North America

      January 11, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Roy

    Prudhoe Bay oilfield is located on the north slope of Alaska, hundreds of miles from Nome. The Alaska Pipeline runs south to Valdez AK, even farther away. And oh by the way, this tanker carries refined products, not crude oil. Supply chains matter just as much as where the oil is.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Marshall Tucker

    Look at all that ice...Global warming is a lie.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • aa

      or that you have an iq above 50 is a lie

      January 11, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • FlyontheWall

      LMAO!! your another dumb american redneck

      January 11, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • ckav

      It's 50 deg. in New Jersey in January. Global warming is a lie? Think again.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Locode

      flyonthewall, the irony of you calling someone dumb while not being able to spell 'you're' correctly is probably lost on you.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • amused123

      what childish comments by both sides. Is it any wonder why we are looked down upon by so many? Sad and embarassing at the same time.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      CKAV and what about last years record setting cold/snow? It is a cyclical thing. We have had warm winters before read your history.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • John John

      Pretty funny that there are still hold outs against global warming. Somebody needs to take those 2004 websites down but the oil companies paid for them so they stay up.
      Here are some real myths for you:
      -10000 scientist disagree with global warming .. (LIE – the list was made up by the presenter, and copies all over the place...most of the people listed never were asked about global warming)
      -Global warming has to do with today's temperature – (NOT TRUE, global warming is CLIMATE change. daily temps are pretty irrelevant.)
      -There is no proof! – (The ice cap is melting, Greenland is melting, Antarctica is melting, the climatic temps are rising, - do you live in a jar?)
      -It is over, the temps are going back down. (and they go up and they go down and they go up.... again you are talking about daily, weekly or even monthly temps. even YEARLY temps don't mean much)
      -Oil company scientists will protect us from those mean liberals! (Think about it. Why do you think the oil companies would lie? That's and easy one... now okay now give me one reason why those nasty liberal would lie about it... they wanna sell more windmills? Nice try.)
      Stop reading outdated websites and move out of your mom's basement.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Matthew Kilburn

    Why don't they just drill some TNT into the ice every couple hundred feet, and boom.......a clear route?

    January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Whorhay

      Probably because there is miles and mile and miles of ice they have to break through. That and setting off enough explosives to break up the ice could very likely damage the hull of the ships. Water does not compress well and so would transfer a lot of the pressure from the explosion directly to the ships, it's why depth charges are an effective weapon against Submarines. They don't have to score a direct hit just be close enough to compromise the integrity of the hull.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat?

      takes too much time, plus uses alot of tnt for miles of ice, plus it impacts the waterlife and polutes the water more than taking a ship and using the icebreaker

      January 11, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Robert wiggins

    It is in these times of effort, that we can still see people who come togather can make something good work. The world could use some of
    Mankinds efforts . I wish them all well......

    January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. mcox

    @ Marshall Tucker: if you must publically display your ignorance please choose a handle that doesn't drag the South down with you.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    That's the way he spresses himself, an he sounded it out.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Not JIF @10:12.
      Obvious troll is obvious.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    Do you think the situation will get dire enough that they would call in planes to bomb the ice?

    January 11, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandy

      It would probably be more likely to use the planes to fly in barrels of fuel to Nome rather than bomb the ice, for the same reason they wouldn't just use tnt charges.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ the Sovereign©:
    Irony of "an."
    I was about to add:
    NB: possessive precedes gerund.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeremy

    It's sad to see all these negative comments so often. What people should be saying is something more along the lines of:

    Wow, how bad-ass is this? An American coast guard ship smashing through ice, paving the way for a Russian tanker to bring fuel to a city that will soon run out because the barge couldn't make it. Totally an epic adventure! Would make for a good movie. Props to the people on those ships for trying their best!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal

      I agree, this is a great thing. I love our country!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      Jeremy, as the mother of one of the crew members on the USCG Healy I would like to thank you for your kind words. I am very proud of my son and the rest of the crew members on the ship. My son reported that the weather yesterday was a minus 30 degrees and dropping, but they are out on the flight deck shoveling snow and ice as fast as they can. This is not about global warming this is about a crew working together to deliver fuel to a community that very well could have had enough fuel flown in until a barge could reach them. This ship was due to arrive in Seattle Wasington their home port on December 24th but instead they are sitting in the middle of an ice field trying to forge a path for the Russian Tanker.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NY-David

    I understand that the crew of the Healy has been away from port since May and would have been home for the holidays if it wasn't for this. God Bless the US Coast Guard!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      Yes, they were due back in Seattle December 24th.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KN

    Some of the comments posted are an indication of the lack of knowledge of the real world. First New Jersey is not the world, and just because the local temperature is 50 in that insignificant portion of the surface of the earth does not mean the earth is warming, What about Texas and its snows does that mean the earth is cooling it is several times bigger that New Jersey? What about the fact that there was 16 feet of snow in Alaska, and the problems of getting fuel to Nome; does that indicate global warming or COOLING?

    The suggestions to use TNT or to bomb the ice to get through indicates that lack of knowledge of what these ships are facing. Does not deserve comments when the thickness of the ice and the miles of ice are considered.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Clod

    Why doesn't the crew just do some trust-falls or games revolving around adjective/first-name association? That's what we use in my corporate meetings for ice-breakers. (Boom!)

    January 11, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike


      January 11, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. Captain

    A sure sign of global warming........

    January 11, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Thatguy371

      The current term is climate change. So all you repubtards can stop with the global warming jokes in the winter.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. cindy m

    Has anyone thought of using lasers.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
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