The tanker Renda and ice-breaker Healy moved just 7 miles yesterday in a full day of work.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst says that after covering an impressive 53 miles on Monday, the vessels hit pressurized ice Tuesday and ground to a near halt. They are now around 90 miles south of Nome.
Captain Beverly Havlik aboard the Healy said that the icepack was very dense and escorting the Renda through pressure ridges required multiple passes by the Healy. Shortly after the Healy carves lead routes, the ice-pans under pressure collapse in on the Renda.
The two vessels will soon get a break as they meet an “ice shadow” of thinner ice formed when open leads refreeze. But the relief will be brief: closer to Nome, the vessels will meet some of the thickest ice of the journey, up to 4 feet thick. Captain Havlik says she wasn’t anticipating that the pack would show such stark contrast from mile to mile.
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