Renda Begins Pumping Fuel

Photo by David Dodman: The Russian tanker Renda - its railings and hull encrusted with snow and ice - seen from the Nome causeway Sunday afternoon.

The Russian tanker Renda is pumping fuel.

After a 5,000 mile journey across the pacific and breaking through 400 miles of ice to Nome, the Renda began to transfer its payload of 1.3 million gallons of gas and diesel just before 4:30 this afternoon.  The fuel is running through 2,000 feet of hoses across the sea ice into the port’s headers and up to Sitnasuak’s tank farm.

Vitus Marine CEO Mark Smith says there will around-the-clock watch aboard the Renda and on the ice.

Sitnasuak Board Chair Jason Evans says the plan is to systematically empty the Renda’s payload, using the tanker’s powerful pumps.

The Commander for the Coast Guard in Alaska, Rear Admiral Thomas Osteboe was in Nome Sunday.  He says the mission for the Coast Guard is at a critical stage.

Joining the Admiral were Senator Lisa Murkowski, Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, and several State Commissioners who flew in with a planeload of reporters. Senator Murkowski said the historic fuel delivery points to America’s needs in the Arctic.

Lieutenant Governor Treadwell also called for an increased Coast Guard presence in the Arctic.

The Healy is the Coast Guard’s only functioning icebreaker and is designed for research.

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Ben Matheson is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

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Matthew Smith is a reporter at KNOM in Nome.

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