US Coast Guard Icebreaker Escorts Russian Tanker Through Arctic Ice [IMAGES]

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BERING SEA - The Coast Guard Cutter Healy approaches the Russian-flagged tanker Renda while breaking ice around the vessel 250 miles south of Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The two vessels departed Dutch Harbor for Nome on Jan. 3, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

– by LT Connie Braesch, USCG

The Coast Guard has a long history of braving harsh Alaskan elements to rescue mariners in distress, protect the U.S. interests in the international waters, conduct Arctic research as well as bring much needed supplies to remote Alaska villages.

The Service’s latest Arctic mission to help bring fuel to the ice-encrusted harbor of Nome is just one of the ways we continue to honor those traditions.

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, our nation’s only operating polar ice breaker, is on-scene breaking ice and leading the way for the Russian-flagged tanker vessel Renda into Nome. The ice stretches from the harbor about 300 miles. Healy can break a path to within a half mile of the entrance to Nome but is unable to get any closer due to the depth of the water. From this point, there are a number of options being explored to get the fuel the remainder of the way including using a fuel hose from the barge to shore.

“This has been and continues to be a highly orchestrated effort between all stakeholders to ensure mission success,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander 17th Coast Guard District. “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 city had arranged to have a barge deliver fuel in the fall, but the historic November storm delayed the delivery. By the time the weather cleared, Nome was iced-in.

You can read more about the Healy’s support and the overall operation on the 17th Coast Guard District news site.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.
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BERING SEA - The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice for the tanker Renda 250 miles south of Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The Renda is carrying over one million gallons of fuel supplies for delivery to the residents of Nome. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

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BERING SEA — The Russian-flagged tanker Renda, carrying more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel, sits in the ice while the Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew breaks the ice around the tanker approximately 19 miles northwest of Nunivak Island Jan. 6, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy
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BERING SEA — The Russian-flagged tanker Renda sits in the ice of the Bering Sea while the 420-foot Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks the ice around the tanker Jan. 6, 2012. The cutter Healy and tanker Renda crews are about 250 miles south of Nome, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy.
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ERING SEA — The 420-foot Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew breaks ice around the tanker Renda during their transit in the Bering Sea to Nome, Alaska, Jan. 6, 2012. The Russian-flagged Renda contains more than 1.3 million gallons of critically needed fuel be delivered to the city of Nome. U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy.

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ERING SEA — A Coast Guard Cutter Healy crewmember takes a moment to watch the Russian-flagged tanker Renda steam through the ice in the North Bering Sea while the cutter crew escorts the tanker to Nome Jan. 6, 2012. The 420-foot Seattle-based Healy is the Coast Guard's newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker and is currently the service's only operational polar icebreaker. U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Healy.