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. Mark

    The real problem is that this town has grown beyond its ability to sustain its self in its environment. If it cant last a few weeks being cut off, maybe they should rethink the towns existence..

    January 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal

      That is so wrong, you don't know what you are talking about.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • FairbanksAk

      True, Nome has grown beyond its environmental sustainability. Name one town, or especially city, in the United States that can feed, clothe, shelter, water, and heat itself within the confines of its local environment.

      Nobody cries foul when help is given to communities affected by hurricanes. The entire east coast shuts down for a little snow and everybody thinks that is normal.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • FairbanksAk

      Also idiot we're not talking about being cut off for a few weeks. If they run out of fuel in March, it may be a few months until the ice is out. We have real winter here.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda Reed

      I believe some folks misunderstood what Mark was trying to say. I believe he meant that it might be worth re-considering the viability of a city in a location that may not be able to be sustained even with emergency aid. I certainly do not resent the aid given to the city, but I do fear for the lives of the citizens as well as the lives of the tanker's crew.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • buddhabill

      According to Nome's 2020 plan (draft), a recent survey of residents revealed that developing alternative energy should be the city's #3 focus. Interestingly, the #1 issue with 70% of residents responding it is important, is public intoxication. I would strongly recommend that an ethanol plant NOT be considered in Nome...

      January 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • REAL_Alaskan

      Nome Gal, This surprises you? For the record folks, THIS ISN'T KANSAS. Alaska is a HUGE State with MANY types of environments. For instance there is NO RAOD, no way to DRIVE to our State Capital, Juneau. You either fly in or get there by boat. We refer to our State as The Last Frontier, and it's ACCURATE.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe M.

      They should have sent the fuel on hovercraft. Hovercraft can move over ice, can move over water, can move over land. They can still send hovercraft to meet the ship, off-load the fuel to the hovercraft in barrels and take the fuel to the intended destination. Just do it!!!

      January 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      These conditions are encountered every season by these folks. I compare this to those who choose to live on an island. Let THEM pay for ferry service and the associated costs of delivering their means of survival. THEY chose to live there so why should the rest of us have to cough up funds to support their choices.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • ks

      Just wow! We do live in a huge and dirverse state-have you looked at a map? Nome is not the only city in the area. I can't believe that folks are not happy to help out our people in need.
      AK residentlets not feel the troll anymore. These will be the same people that come here on vaca and complain about everything.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • brillow

      joe, a hovercraft can't carry much .weight they can barely lift their own fuel needs. to move a million gallons of fuel with a hovercraft would take about a million gallons of fuel for the hovercraft.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Binks

    I hope they are paying for the coast guard cutter time,material, and labor at cost plus 15%. Let Alaskans pay for their bad planning with their yearly petrobucks kickback.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nome Alaska gal


      January 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • FairbanksAk

      Once again, do areas affected by hurricanes, tornadoes or Noreasters have to pay back the govt? Isn't this why we have a Coast Guard and National Guard?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • cronewinter

      Nome is as American as New Orleans, all our cities and people deserve help in times of trouble.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      This is NOT a hurricane or other weather related anomaly. This happens up there EVERY YEAR. They make a choice to live there. Why should the rest of us pay to support it?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • brillow

      crocker , exactly how much do you think your share of the cost of the coast guard cutter healy is?
      its less then a penny you tightwad.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. ADiff

    Gee, I thought all the ice was supposed to be gone by now......

    January 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cobra

    To Michael Binks, what kind of government pay out do you get from the tax payers??

    January 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Seriously. Who advocates for a markup on government services? Paying at cost is one thing . . .

      January 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bell Bant

    Alaska is the largest welfare state in the union. Every single thing is heavily supsidized by the lower 48's taxpayers....time to make these few relocate or pay their own way! Drill and suck all the oil out and leave it to the Polar Bears and Scary Sara.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dean Carr

    Where are the bombs to blow the heck out of the ice in front of this convoy. Who is in charge of this . Oh yea. I forgot its OBAMA. Lets pretend that the ice is LIBYA and have some fun.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. magneticink

    ...so where is bare chested Putin when you need him?...

    January 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MKC, USCGR (ret)

    To all my brothers and sisters on the USCGC Healy...Semper Paratus! Proud of you and your service. You are part of what makes the Coast Guard and this country truly great.

    Retired Chief Machinery Technician, sends...with love and pride.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. skip stutler

    are these retards stuck there the same ones that butcher whales???? using forklifts and claim its ancient rituals but yet why do thet need modern fuel...frick them..hope the fuel doesn t make it..let then burn whale oil

    January 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • REAL_Alaskan

      Alaskan's in NOME do not hunt whales. But there ARE villages where they DO hunt whales. As they have for THOUSANDS of years. They do it to SURVIVE, the eat the meat and use virtually every single scrap. The real BUTCHERRS are the disgusting folks who sport hunt. THESE people fly up here, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and BUTCHER magnificent animals like our Brown Bear, JUST FOR THE FUN OF KILLING. I DESPISE them, and value the life of EVERY SINGLE "animal" over theirs.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ddddddddddd

    I read there is two more boats like the Healy in that part of the upper west area but there down for repairs. Maybe this will let the Government know how important an icebreaker is in that part of the world.

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

    Why not fly shape charges in by helicopter and blast a path through the ice? Problem solved.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. REAL_Alaskan

    Several people have made comments about our "kickback" from the Oil companies. We do not get a kickback, we get a DIVIDEND. Which is why it's called the Alaska Permanent DIVIDEND. Here in Alaska we mix SOCIALISM with CAPITALISM. Alaska's petroleum resources are owned IN COMMON by every Alaska Resident. And our laws specify a percentage of the revenue we derive from the sale of OUR petroleum be invested into a fund to provide for future needs of our State. At them moment we have
    unaudited, as of Jan 10, 2012
    US Bonds $6,084,300,000
    US Stocks $6,192,400,000
    Non US Stocks $7,147,400,000
    Global Stocks $4,638,600,000
    Non US Bonds $1,359,900,000
    Real Estate $4,087,200,000
    Cash $853,100,000
    Alternatives $5,844,500,000
    Real Return/External CIO $2,807,600,000
    TOTAL $39,015,000,000


    Every year a percentage of the five year average of the profit this fund earns is divided equally among every single Alaskan resident.

    It isn't free money, it isn't a kickback, it's money we EARN from the sale and production of OUR petroleum.

    It's an excellent example why it's STUPID to condem either socialism or capitalism as poor systems. We Alaskans's COMBINE the two and benefit from it. The AK PFD last year was $1174 to EVERY SINGLE Alaskan resident. A family of four got four of them.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Samielynne

    All I can say is wow! My fellow humans seem to have been shorted in the common sense and heart department. Is it so wrong to help a fellow man least of all a fellow American. You complain if the government doesn't do as much as you think they should, and you complain if you think they do too much. You all make my four children sound like hippie peace guru rocket scientists! Hard working good people are doing a good thing. Didn't your mothers teach you how to just say thank you. If you can't I will thank you for your selfless act.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Crocker

    All I am saying is that if you choose to live in an out of the way place then YOU should cover the related costs. Why should the rest of us subsidize your particular choice of lifestyle?

    January 12, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Wild

      People also chose to live in flood plains and along hurricane ridden coasts, does this therefore mean that since they choose to live there that they do not deserve help when homes are flooded, destroyed by hurricanes, or in cases of wildfires (as caused by careless individuals or nature) burned to the ground.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • brillow

      oh crocker, how much are you paying to subsidize my lifestyle? nothing? i thought so.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. LKinAK

    If you choose to live in a part of the country that is hit by earthquakes, hurricanes, and major flooding year after year why should I have to pay? You choose to live their knowing its going to happen... Seriously that's the worst argument I've heard. Plus read the captions! The Native Corporation organized the mission not the U.S. government as some sort of bail out. The native corporations get their money from investments that they make. Unless you actually live in Alaska you have no idea what its really like...

    January 12, 2012 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
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