Tanker plows toward cut-off Alaska city
A Coast Guard icebreaker is cutting a path through icy seas for a Russian tanker carrying much-needed fuel for the iced-in Alaska city of Nome.
The 370-foot tanker Renda, hauling more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel, is scheduled to arrive later Monday or Tuesday. It was less than 190 miles away on Saturday.
Video and still photo images released by the Coast Guard show the two vessels moving steadily through ice jammed seas.
The city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm. If the delivery of diesel fuel and unleaded gasoline is not made, the city likely will run short of fuel supplies before another barge delivery can be made in spring.
Vitus Marine LLC spokesperson Stacey Smith told KTUU the Renda and the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy were stopped against an ice ridge just before dawn Saturday and waited until daylight before continuing their journey.
If the mission is successful, it will be the first time petroleum products have been delivered by sea to a Western Alaska community in winter.
The Coast Guard said the Russian tanker came upon ice about a foot thick very early Friday near Nunivak Island, a large island in the eastern Bering Sea. The tanker is following the Healy, the Coast Guard’s only functioning icebreaker — a ship of special design with a reinforced hull made to move through ice.