Russian fuel tanker reaches Alaska town cut off by ice (VIDEO)


The Russian tanker Renda powers toward Nome, Alaska with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy's (not pictured) assistance January 9, 2012 in the Bering Sea. The tanker, carrying 1.3 million gallons of fuel for Nome, is traveling through approximately 300 miles of ice covered sea to deliver badly needed supplies to the community of about 3,500 after poor weather conditions prevented a previously scheduled delivery before the winter conditions set in.


U.S. Coast Guard

A Russian fuel tanker has reached a town in Alaska which has been cut off by ice and extreme weather conditions, the BBC reported.

The vessel, carrying more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel, has been heading toward Nome, on Alaska's northwestern coast, for 10 days with the assistance of a US Coast Guard icebreaker, the Cutter Healy.

They are the first ships to reach western Alaska after snow storms earlier in the season prevented the arrival of routine fuel deliveries. Nome is a small fishing town of about 3,600 people.

US Coast Guard Lt. Veronica Colbath told CNN, “we have (had) … ice and weather challenges on this 300-mile journey, so we will not be rushing into the harbor of Nome until we have identified the best course of action to navigate in.” 

Nome's harbor is iced-in, which has preventing the 370-foot tanker from docking, according to the Associated Press

Instead, it will have to transfer the gasoline across the ice to the dock. As a result, the Russian tanker faces the difficult challenge of transferring over a million gallons of fuel to shore through a mile-long hose without causing a spill. 

"They want to get a good staging area to start taking fuel off and that would be easier in the morning," said Coast Guard official Adam de Rocher.

It will take an estimated 45 hours to complete the transfer. Since the ship left Russia last month, it has made fuel stops in South Korea and Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where it took on unleaded gasoline.

Meanwhile, Alaska continues to get more snow.

The Alaska Dispatch reported an overnight snowstorm in South central Alaska brought the region to a standstill, dumping almost 20 inches of snow in Valdez and bringing the total snow fall in Cordova to 59 inches. 

 Helping Fuel Get to Iced-In Nome
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