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. Jim

    KN, California is drying up. We have had 2 winters in the last 10 or 12 with average rainfall. No snow in the Sierras. I have lived here over 50 years and this is what they predicted for our area. I see a change.

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

      I was in Yosemite in May 2006 and the snow pack in the Sierra's was well above average. The waterfalls were spectacular.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bryce

      Here is an article from 2011:

      Sierra Nevada snowpack – a key factor in determining the state's water supply each year – stands at 165 percent of average, a level not seen since 1995 and one that puts the 2010-2011 winter near the top of the record lists.

      "This year's snowpack counts as one of the big ones – there aren't many of them," said Maury Roos, veteran meteorologist with the California Department of Water Resources.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lejaune

    I wonder how much per gallon the oil would cost by the time it reaches there.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • shootmyownfood

      Truly ironic, since everyone wants to drill for oil in Alaska. Why not just run a big pipeline to Nome from the North Slope? Guess a refinery would have to be in there somewhere, huh? Oddly, no-one seems to want to build refineries there, just drill for the oil and ship it off to Aisa.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia

      Was wondering the same as far as fuel consumption for the two ships. This story does say this was an attempt to deliver the first ever shipment through sea ice as a storm delayed a previous shipment.
      I worry about the possibility of the fuel tanker being crushed by sea ice and the 1.3 million gallons of crude oil spilling into the the artic waters. What a nightmare that would be for all creatures living there.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    Ironically, the ice flows that the 'Healy' is fighting through are indirectly caused by a late freeze in the Arctic. Prevailing Winds blowing across open water tend to push the existing ice into massive flows which Ice Breakers of the Healy class can't handle. We have One operational Ice breaker (medium class) and none of the large breakers Russia operates. That's why we are encountering problems.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • thatrix

      I've heard enough logic here... can't we stop and focus on a way to make this Obamas fault?
      Where are all the republicans when we need them?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Martoon

      Darn that Global Warming! At least the polar bears will benefit...

      January 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Must be due to global warming.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. 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.

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

      you need help.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • TW

      Gee, palintwit, you managed to use insults so well in your dripping with sarcasm statement. I'm sure you felt powerful insulting groups with differing opinions and interests than you and I hope you sleep better knowing you have your duty to the libelous liberal army today.

      Of course, those of us who are in touch with reality will just continue to do the right thing and work to get this country back on track while you muck about in your fantasy world.

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

      TW... conservatives, evangelicals, baggers, birthers, republicans... you all stand ready to launch the USA forward to the 12th century.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • GoodTimes

      Palintwit: Go to the light and learn to enjoy your own presence so that others can enjoy it as well. The best way to stop despising others is to stop despising yourself first. You don't have to live a dark-souled existance, and entirely up to you and well within your control to change this.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Having 'twit' at the end of your screen name tells us a lot about you..................idiot!

      January 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cleat

    thats unpossible!! everyone knows there is no ice left there!!!- according to the tree huggers and gore...

    January 11, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Harfenist

      Really Cleat – "unpossible". Did you graduate from 3rd grade?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. La Nina

    Yes, climate change has never ever occurred before in the history of the planet. Be very scared.

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

    funny how its been "warming" pretty much since the ice age...

    January 11, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat)©

    So what are they going to do now ? Will they bring in another ice breaker to free the ice breaker that can't break any more ice, or just wait till the spring thaw ?

    January 11, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      The US doesn't have any more ice breakers. Of our massive fleet of three, two are being refitted. If need be, we could probably lease one from an other sea going nation?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. David

    I wonder what kind of fallback measures are being taken. The community might want to use a single public place not unlike a hurricane evacuation shelter as living quarters to conserve the fuel that remains. And once it can be determined that their remaining fuel can be sustained through the thaw, the residents can return to their own homes. Just my two cents.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. gung hoe

    Geez imagine that ice in nome ak in the middle of january

    January 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lori

    Now if only the headlne could read "ICE stops progress of Illegals"...

    January 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Bob

    Amazing. We put those sailors in harms way, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it, so people that choose to live waaaaay up there can do so, and just at the expense of a couple of bucks extra per gallon? I don't THINK so!! Those people want to live up there because of their "way of life", fine. They can use dog sleds and burn blubber in their lamps. Otherwise, move somewhere else!

    January 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirsten

      So want to know something really funny. The mostly native village of Nome both uses dog sled teams on regular occasions and also is one of the Alaskan villages that participates in subsistence whaling, just like they have done for thousands of years. And their native corporation is paying for all of this, just like it says in the article. What needs to be done is for a road to be built from Fairbanks to Nome, so people can drive to one of Alaska's larger towns.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Lori, we could just stop plowing the last 10 miles of roads into Canada.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dick Weed

    Think again Jim Bob. People have been living "up there" since the last ice age. In fact, if humans had not migrated through what is now Alaska, YOU WOULD'T EVEN BE ALIVE TO POST DRIVEL. I say, keep your liberal dumb a$$ mouth CLOSED.

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