The Renda is steaming north at 11 knots with the icebreaker Healy close by. The vessels are set to reach the ice edge around noon Friday and break through 390 miles of ice. The fuel is now expected to make it to Nome on Monday. The delivery was delayed last night because the Renda had to return to Dutch Harbor to repair a faulty valve.
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 3 knots. This afternoon, he checked in from the ship as it was underway again”
The vessels are about four days out, but the oil spill prevention and contingency plans are still not approved. The DEC is hoping to issue its decision sometime Thursday or Friday. John Kotula is the Manager of the Marine Vessels section for the DEC. He says the agency will issue conditions that require Vitus Marine to have certain equipment and personnel in place. But he says the final decision by regulators and industry partners will be made on scene.
As the pieces come together, Nome is experiencing a record cold snap. The National Weather Service measured 40 below Thursday morning, the coldest temperature in Nome since January of 1999. Forecasts for the delivery date call for temperatures as low as 30 below. Kotula says that’s factored into the plan.
The Coast Guard has begun daily C-130 flights to photograph the vessels and assist with determining ice conditions near Nome. Plans call for C-130 support during the fueling, plus staging a helicopter on shore. The Coast Guard will have Rear Admiral Thomas Osteboe, the Commander of the Coast Guard in Alaska on scene for a few hours.
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