A Coast Guard Icebreaker is cutting a path through 1 foot frozen seas in order to get much needed fuel to the iced in city of Nome, Alaska. The Icebreaker is cutting a path for a Russian tanker hauling 1.3 million gallons of fuel and is scheduled to arrive Monday or Tuesday. It is currently about 190 miles away.
Jason Evans, the CEO of Sitnasuak Native Corp, one of the companies who is part of this whole delivery said, “They’re navigating through ice right now, taking a direct route for now. They considered going through patches where there might be thinner ice, but determined that that would have taken them on a longer route.”.
The Western Alaska city of Nome has about 3,500 people who live there. They usually get a final barge of fuel before the winter ice sets in, but this year an early snow made delivery basically impossible.
The Healy, is the Coast Guard’s only functional icebreaker. The Healy has a reinforced hull to get it through the ice.
“It’s going basically as planned,” Evans said.
As long as the delivery comes off as planned, it will be the first time in history a fuel ship will have brought a shipment to western Alaska in the Winter.
Sitnasuak officials have said they made the decision to use the Russian delivery tanker when it became obvious that it would not be cost effective to have the fuel flown in. The Russian ship is certified to deliver fuel through ice up to four feet thick. It is usually used to deliver fuel to Far Eastern Russian cities during the winter.