By Rhonda McBride
Channel 2 News
12:35 PM AKST, January 10, 2012
The Russian tanker Renda continues to make headway on its journey to deliver more than 1 million gallons of petroleum products to Nome, after the iced-in port missed a fuel delivery in November.
After a break overnight Monday, the Renda and its escort, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, resumed operations at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Vitus Marine LLC, the company that’s coordinating the fuel delivery to Nome, says the two ships traveled 53 miles through sea ice Monday, with about 100 miles of ice left to navigate.
Stacey Smith with Vitus Marine says that temperatures are warming up somewhat and are now ranging from 15 degrees below to 20 degrees below, with winds forecast to die down starting Tuesday. Smith says the sea ice thickness varies from 2 to 3 feet.
The Coast Guard says the ships are moving at about 8 knots, about twice the speed they made on Sunday.
Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley says the Renda and Healy are also making substantial progress, compared to Sunday’s 9.5 miles. Mosley says the ice is constantly changing, including ice plates pushing against each other that create ridges that are 5 feet thick.
Mosley says as the two vessels head to Nome, the ice should be thicker and more stable.
Vitus Marine and the Coast Guard are no longer giving estimates for the Renda’s arrival in Nome.
“We are taking it day by day and are unable to truly give an appropriate estimated time of arrival,” said Smith, who had nothing but praise for the dedication of the Healy crew.
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