Residents of Nome, Alaska, will have the fuel they need to make it through what's proven to be an unusually harsh winter.
The Russian tanker Renda arrived off Nome over the weekend and, as of Monday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard was preparing to offload the fuel. The tanker is positioned about a half-mine offshore, but this time, the ice will be friendly.
Crews from Nome's harbor are laying fuel hoses that will connect the vessel with the loading area inside the harbor. Once daylight arrives today — a period of time just five hours long — the unloading can begin. State law requires unloading to being in daylight, according to the Anchorage Daily News, but it can continue into darkness. The whole process should take between two and five days to complete.
Once the hose is laid across the ice bed, crews will inspect its entire length every 30 minutes to ensure it hasn't been disturbed and that a leak hasn't been caused.
"This is real. This is what we deal with," U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said to the Daily News, in Nome, where she traveled to make an appeal for more resources in the Arctic.
Once the unloading is finished, it will mark the end of a month-long, 5,000-mile journey for the freighter, from Russia to Japan, South Korea, Dutch Harbor, Alaska and in to Nome, said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, Coast Guard District Seventeen commander, to the Daily News.
Though the Renda arrived off Nome on Saturday, the unloading wasn't able to begin on Sunday because crews have to wait for the ice to refreeze in order to be able to hook up the fuel pipe, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"We are dedicated to completing a safe fuel delivery," Ostebo said to the Tribune. "The Captains and crews of the Healy and the Renda have done a tremendous job getting to Nome safely, but the work of the Coast Guard, our partners, and industry personnel is far from over as we shift to shoreside operations. The last thing that we want to happen during this operation is to have an injury or an accident."