(US COAST GUARD) Coast Guard inspectors completed a port state control exam on the double-hulled ice-classed Russian tanker Renda today in Dutch Harbor.
“The tanker vessel Renda met all applicable federal laws and regulations and can operate in U.S. waters following the successful completion of a required Coast Guard port state control examination,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander District 17. “Our daily discussions will continue with our federal, state, local, tribal partners, and the marine industry to ensure the highest standards of safety and compliance are in place to mitigate risks to the people of Nome, the crews of the vessels, and the environment.”
The Renda will be escorted by the Coast Guard Cutter Healy and is expected to arrive in Nome on Jan. 8, 2012 if on scene weather conditions permit safe passage.
The Healy will lead the Renda through 300 miles of ice to within a half mile of the harbor entrance. “Upon arrival, the Renda will transit the remaining distance to stable ice close to the harbor entrance to transfer fuel via hose under approved procedures,” said Capt. Craig Lloyd, District 17 chief of response who is coordinating the mission. “University of Alaska personnel are in Nome to assist in determining the thickness of the ice outside the harbor entrance. Due to a large ridge of ice at the harbor entrance, the Renda is unable to enter the actual harbor.”
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved a Jones Act Waiver Dec. 30, 2011 to Vitus Marine authorizing the foreign-flagged tanker to deliver gasoline from Dutch Harbor to Nome. Renda arrived in Dutch Harbor laden with diesel fuel that was on loaded in Asia. The Jones Act waiver was required since Renda could not load the gasoline cargo in Asia due to weather and scheduling constraints. The vessel is scheduled to take on additional cargo of gasoline in Dutch Harbor today.
The Healy’s participation was contingent upon the following items: the Renda passed the port state control exam, there were no inordinate delays, the fuel transfer plans met federal and state requirements and on scene weather conditions permit safe passage.
Sitnasuak Native Corporation of Nome signed a contract with Vitus Marine LLC to deliver 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products to Nome via Renda around the second week of January. If successful, this will mark the first time that petroleum products have been delivered by sea to a Western Alaskan community through ice covered waters. “This has been and continues to be a highly orchestrated effort between all stakeholders to ensure mission success” said Ostebo. “As we have done for more than 220 years, the Coast Guard is dedicated to ensuring the safe and secure transfer of maritime commerce. The Healy, our nation’s only operating polar ice breaker, and its crew are committed to upholding our long history of service to the residents of Alaska.”
The Healy is named after Capt. Mike Healy, an 19th century Coast Guard hero. As the commanding officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, “Hell Roaring Mike”, enforced federal law, provided search and rescue, and provided humanitarian assistance along Alaska’s 20,000 mile coastline in the late 1800s. The cutter is 420-feet long and has extensive scientific capabilities. Homeported in Seattle, the cutter has a permanent crew of 80 and was originally scheduled to return home in mid December. The primary mission is scientific support but it is capable of other Coast Guard and defense operations such as search and rescue, domestic ice breaking, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar Regions.