Crews from a Russian tanker on Saturday prepared a segmented hose to transfer critical fuel from their ship to an iced-in Alaskan town.
ANCHORAGE — Crews from a Russian tanker on Saturday readied a segmented hose to transfer critical fuel from their ship to an iced-in Alaskan town.
Jason Evans, chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corp. board, said the 370-foot tanker Renda was aiming Saturday to moor about 500 yards from the village of Nome, whose harbor had too much ice for the vessel to reach.
The crew will move 1.3 million gallons of fuel through a hose set up over the sea ice.
Personnel will walk the entire length of the hose every 30 minutes to check it for leaks. Each segment will have its own spill containment area, and extra absorbent boom will be on hand in case of a spill.
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Evans said he hopes the crew will begin unloading the fuel by Sunday.
“It’s kind of like a football game; we’re on the five-yard line and we just want to work into the goal line,” said Evans.
The Renda reached Nome’s vicinity after a slow crawl through hundreds of miles of sea ice. It was aided by the Seattle-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy.
There has been a lot of anxious waiting since the ship left Russia in mid-December. It picked up diesel fuel in South Korea before traveling to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where it took on unleaded gasoline. Late Thursday, the vessels stopped offshore and began planning the transfer.
A fall storm prevented Nome from getting a fuel delivery in November. Without the tanker delivery, supplies of diesel fuel, gasoline and home heating fuel in Nome were expected to run out in March and April, well before barge delivery again in late May or June.