Icebreaker, tanker inch toward iced-in AK town

January 9, 2012 • Business

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice around the Russian-flagged tanker Renda 250 miles south of Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The Healy is the Coast Guard’s only currently operating polar icebreaker. The vessels are transiting through ice up to five-feet thick in this area. The 370-foot tanker Renda will have to go through more than 300 miles of sea ice to get to Nome, a city of [auth] about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that 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. (AP Photo/US Coast Guard – Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Russian tanker is inching through thick ice in the Bering Sea en route to delivering fuel to the iced-in western Alaska city of Nome.

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy is cutting a path for the 370-foot Renda, which carrying more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel.

Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class David Mosley says the vessels are 170 miles south of Nome as of late Sunday morning. Mosley says the ships are able to travel only five miles an hour through ice up to two feet thick.

The Coast Guard initially estimated arrival time early Monday, but Mosley says it’s difficult to predict an exact time because of challenges of navigating through ice.

Nome didn’t get its last pre-winter barge fuel delivery because of a massive storm.

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