The Russian tanker Renda reached Alaska Saturday night, after being led on a grueling journey by a Coast Guard ice-breaker to try to reach the city of Nome. The tanker is just offshore of the iced-in harbor, and now preparing for the second act of its journey: piping the 1.3 million gallons of petroleum through a mile-long system of pipes without spilling.
The voyage of the Renda and the U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker Healy, as documented in The New York Times, is the first effort to send a shipment of fuel through sea ice to Alaska. The mission was undertaken even though the iced-in region has enough fuel to last through roughly March; it would be even more difficult to resupply then.
The normal shipment of fuel was delayed by a storm in November. Now, residents of Nome are waiting for the transfer of the Renda's cargo from offshore to a tank farm located at the port, a process the Associated Press said could take anywhere from 36 hours to five days.
In the meantime, CNN reported, local officials were focused on the safety of the transfer of oil, but also of curious local residents. Despite the historic achievement, Coast Guard officials said, Alaskans should resist the temptation to venture out onto the ice for a closer look.