Tanker and icebreaker head home from Nome

The transfer of 1 million gallons of diesel and 300,000 gallons of gasoline from a Russian tanker to onshore storage tanks in the iced-in city of Nome, Alaska has been completed, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Friday.

The tanker T/V Renda and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker, are preparing to depart Nome today. The Heavy must cut a path through about 360 miles of sea ice to reach open waters of the Bering Sea, Coast Guard spokesman David Mosely said.

This is the return trip for the Healy and the Renda. The Healy assisted the tanker through the ice to Nome earlier. The Healy was able to get the tanker within 500 yards of shore in thick shore-fast ice, and worked to freeze the tanker in so that it would provide a stable platform for the fuel delivery.

A hose was stretched 500 feet across the ice to onshore storage tanks operated by a local fuel delivery company.

“The assistance for the tanker delivering of fuel to Nome was only part of the Healy’s mission. Now we have to get the tanker and the Healy out of the ice zone to open water,” Mosely said.

Read Admiral Thomas Ostebo, the Coast Guard’s District 17 Commander, said, “Throughout this mission our Coast Guard crews, partners and industry partners at sea and ashore have been dedicated to insuring a safe transit for the Renda to Nome and completing a safe fuel delivery.  I am proud of the way our partners and the marine industry worked as a collaborative team along with the Coast Guard o get the needed fuel to the residents of Nome,” Ostebo said in a statement.

Sitnuasuk Corp., which owns the local Nome fuel company, had contracted with Vitus Marine, an Alaska marine transportation company, to arrange for the delivery of fuel by the Renda, which is based in Vladivostok.

Nome was caught short of fuel for the winter when a scheduled barge delivery of diesel and gasoline was unable to reach the town because of a major November storm in the Bering Sea.

11/11/2016 - 6:31pm