Five hours into its journey north, the Renda turned around and returned to Dutch Harbor for repairs. About 10 miles north of port, State Marine Pilot Captain Pete Garay reported a mechanical issue after observing the tanker moving slower than expected in rough weather, averaging around three knots. Engineers found a higher than normal cylinder head temperature, according to Mark Smith, the CEO of Vitus Marine.
Captain Carter Whalen, the President of the Alaska Marine Pilots, says the Renda anchored at Broad Bay, a few miles northwest of Dutch Harbor. Outside of state waters, the state pilots do not have jurisdiction, so the Russian Captain and agent had to make the call to turn back. The icebreaker Healy stayed out at sea, about five miles north of port.
The plan was to replace the valve in Broad Bay. Mechanics needed to shut the engine completely down to make the repair, which they could not do at sea. Crews on the Renda machined the part on board. Smith expected repairs to be quick, taking about three hours, plus time for a Coast Guard inspection.
Smith hoped for the inspection to be wrapped up and have the tanker underway by 1 a.m.
Captain Whalen says the efforts last night were an example of the teamwork and creativity required in the mission.
Following the repairs, the Renda and Healy will restart the 800-mile journey to Nome.