Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oil-Electric Emmy Award

Well, there is no clear winner in the call for Oil-Electric Emmy awards. The graphics tell the story.

Most correctly remember from their advanced education, the quotation from Omar Khayyam. (Which I obviously misspelled in the survey...)

This line originates in Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the poem The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, 1859:

The Moving Finger writes;
and, having writ, Moves on:
nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Finally, I appreciate the input from those who contribute to the Blog.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sailing Day!

Time lapse video shows more like "punch out" than "cast off!" USCG Healy and T/V Renda begin squirming out of the bone crushing ice field. Look how long that crack runs in front of Healy! With delivery of petroleum products to Bonanza Fuel safely completed, now beings the arduous journey some 350 nautical miles through ice back to "open water."

In my previous post, my expectation was to put humanity into this story, often overlooked in highly edited and abbreviated mainstream media. The more I dig around, the more I find.

Lt. Comdr. Eric St. Pierre is the Operations Officer aboard the Healy, and explains his responsibilities and safety concerns during this mission, with civilian scientists still on board.

The same ice field the Healy and Renda are transiting is also playing havoc with "The Deadliest Catch" crews. Late Friday afternoon, Healy is underway, and begins the task of digging the T/V Renda from her off-load position.

See Also:
Nome Rescue Mission
Nome Prepares
Renda Has Landed
Delivery Complete

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Delivery Completed! The Human Side of Mission to Nome Updated 06:00 GMT Friday

Coast Guard Icebreaker Healy

It's a woman's world! The Icebreaker Healy had just finished a scientific cruise in the Bearing and Beaufort Seas, and was returning to Seattle, when she was diverted to assist the T/V Renda.

Captain Beverly A. Havlik has served on five Coast Guard cutters, including:
  • Executive Officer, CGC POLAR SEA in Seattle, Washington (2007-2009)
  • Commanding Officer, CGC SUNDEW in Duluth, Minnesota (2000-2003)
  • Commanding Officer, CGC PEA ISLAND in Mayport, Florida (1994-1996)
  • Executive Officer, CGC GENTIAN in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina (1992-1994)
  • Operations Officer, CGC MARIPOSA in Detroit, Michigan (1987-1989)
Captain Havlik is a native of Nashua, Iowa, and a 1987 graduate of Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Virginia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management - Human Resources Development, from the University of Northern Iowa.

Her military decorations include:the Meritorious Service Medal
  • Four Coast Guard Commendation Medals
  • Department of Transportation 9-11 Medal
  • Three Coast Guard Achievement Medals
  • The Commandant's Letter of Commendation
  • Lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
The real power is apparent. Scientists and crew demonstrate how an icebreaker is really powered. So many people and disciplines were involve in this supply mission. In addition to the Officers and crew of the Healy and T/V Renda, personnel from Vitus Marine, Bonanza Fuel, observers from the State of Alaska, First Nations, and many more I'm probably not aware of.

It is people that make these adventures come to life!

This is my favorite photograph. The connection between two humans is overwhelming!

The Indefatigable Russian Tanker Renda

This little coast-wise tanker has a huge heart and an indomitable spirit!

From Captain Pete Garay, Alaska Marine Pilot, this late news via the Alaska Dispatch.

Update Jan 19 10:05 a.m. About three hours after the Renda completed transferring her fuel load to storage tanks on shore in Nome: Homeward Bound tomorrow (Friday) the Renda and Healy depart Nome for the "homeward" bound leg of each ship's respective voyage.

For the Renda's crew this marks the end of nine long months of working in ice with no breaks, no vacations, no cell phones and no computers. In short, none of the modern day luxuries that most of us take for granted. This is a crew worn thin not unlike the sailors of yesteryear who would often times spend countless months and sometimes years toiling before the mast.

The hard reality of life aboard the Renda is thus: It is a grinding existence rewarded only by Borscht, bread and a less than modest sum of Rubles. As to her living quarters, Renda is a floating steel cocoon whose hollow cavities are filled with weary-eyed seaman who like the Healy's crew share a simple wish. To return safely home.

I wish we had learned more about her crew. The Alaska Dispatch published a Captain Garay's diary of her voyage, a rare treat and interesting read for those who are truly intrigued by this voyage.


Wednesday January 18th was declared "Community Relations Day." The US Coast Guard, who enjoy a very "tight" relationship with Alaskans, invited Nomites to "Come on out" to the Healy to meet the crew and tour of the vessel.

In addition, the Coasties landed one of their helicopters near the Causeway, and gave the young and old a tour of one of their helicopters.

This, then, is the "Human Side" of the history making "Nome Energy Resupply Mission." Mission accomplished, without incident.

"Well Done! And an extra ration!"

See also:
The Renda Has Landed
Nome Prepares for Fuel Delivery
Nome Rescue Mission

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Renda Has Landed! - Updated Jan 19 1:00 AM GMT

In her Wednesday morning newscast, Laureli Kinneen, News Director for KNOM 96.1 FM, 780 AM, reported the off-loading of petroleum products to the Bonanza Fuel tank farm in Nome, will be completed late Wednesday afternoon.

Adequate lighting made it possible to pump product around the clock, with only one minor disruption. A 400 foot section of hose was replaced earlier in the operation as a precaution, not because it was leaking.

Looking back in my family history, I dug out this photograph of my Grandfather on my mother's side, standing next to a kayak at Nome sometime in the 1930's. It has been lost to the ages how long he stayed up there, and if he and his partner discovered gold.

However, my sister reports that while Grampa Watson was diddling around looking for gold in Alaska, his wife diddled on him in Everette Washington. I need to investigate this revelation!

He worked for the City of Victoria (BC) for many years, with full retirement benefits.

The color post card is from our family album, with nary a word written. The SS Corwin was formerly a United States Revenue Cutter. On January 28, 1915, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the Lifesaving Service were merged under the designation of United States Coast Guard.

The caption for this photo of the S.S. Corwin says she is 4 miles off Nome, at the edge of pack ice. Built by Oregon Iron Works in Portland, the USRC Thomas Corwin, named to honor a former Secretary of the Treasury, was launched in 1879. She survived eight captains during her government work, including the namesake of the USCG Healy, Michael Healy.

In 1900 she became the basis of Corwin Trading Company, operating out of Seattle. The plan was to use her to haul coal from the Seward Peninsula to Seattle. Cargo space was gained by gutting the old gal, including tearing out the former wardroom.

It's not clear if that idea panned out, because in 1902, she underwent more radical surgery, and emerged as a passenger freight vessel, accommodating 35 first class and 50 steerage class passengers. Official records published in 1903 gave these dimensions: 307 gross, 153 net, length 137.5', depth of hold 11.2'; in 1904, 447 tons gross, 239 net, 138' length, 13.2 depth of hold.

She had the mail contract for the Seward Peninsula, operating as Western Alaska Steamship Company. Sold to Mexican interests in 1916, the S.S. Corwin was destroyed by fire in Mexico that same year.

UPDATE: Tuesday Jan 17, 2012.

Two new videos added:

1. Connecting gasoline and diesel hose lines to shore side manifold. Once the hoses have passed a pressure test to check for leaks, pumping of product will commence. [sound, 1:54]

2. Pipeline from air; walking the pipeline. At last word, the State have requested pumping during daylight hours (5 hours) with pipeline patrolled every 30:00 to insure there are no leaks. [sound, 1:43]

Update: Monday, January 16, 2012

Nome Energy Support Mission updated. Three new high quality videos added.

1. Icebreaking as witnessed from beach, Nome, Alaska. [no sound, 1:58]

2. Visit by VIP's, including Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R), ride to Healy in snow cat, visiting with officers and crew. The very human side of this interesting mission. [sound, 6:17]

3. Demonstration of Aeryon Scout, showing how it breaks down to suit case size. Notice in the background, USCG Healy plowing relief cuts at mooring position for T/V Renda. [no sound, 2:00]

Getting there was half the fun!

Friday the 13th. Having made their way 659nm (1,220km) from Dutch Harbor, the lights of Nome are visible just ahead of the USCG Healy.

Saturday the 14th. Alaska Marine Pilots aboard Russian Tanker Renda announced they had achieved their final position outside Nome Harbor late Saturday afternoon.

Sunday the 15th. Preparations are underway for securing the vessel and making connections to shore.

Parked for the night off Nome's Causeway.

This completes a voyage of 659 nm (1,220 km), half of which was through pack ice. As "they" say, "Getting there was half the fun!"

A few days ago, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute conducted an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight, inspecting ice conditions in the area propose for "parking" the Russian tanker T/V Renda.

The BP Alaska Spill Response Team owns the UAV, which is transported in a small suit case! Video from the Aeryon Scout UAV flying at an altitude of 50 feet traveling south from the pier out to 1 mile.

This is the sea ice barrier between the Nome Causeway and the Nome Emergency Support Mission, now 2.67 nm offshore. Ground observers reconnoiter the pressure ridges identified from photographs taken by the Aeryon Scout.

Not like laying out a hose across your front lawn! The problem here is one of laying out a 4-inch diameter hose across this jumble. And making sure sharp ice does not create leaks in the hose.

This is one reason the State has requested pumping take place in daylight hours (5 hours per day) with frequent foot patrols to detect possible leaks.

Let me again stress, that while many news outlets were incorrectly stating that the residents of Nome were close to freezing to death, nothing could be further from the truth. And other media outlets have been trying to present this event as a "life saving event" equal to the famous dog sled diphtheria antitoxin delivery so long ago.

Nome has enough heating fuel for the winter from combined storage tanks owned by two retail distributors, Bonanza Fuel and Crowley (Yes, "tugboat Crowley") Petroleum Distribution. The City was rapidly running out of unleaded gasoline and diesel, not only for the general public (population 3,468) but for City and State police, fire and emergency services vehicles, emergency generators, and of course, school buses!

The real drama in this story is that this is the first time an ice breaking tanker has been used to deliver product through ice in Alaska.

Mooring points will be created by boring holes in the ice, and in one plan, using timbers such as railroad ties, or sections of steel pipe, allowed to be frozen in place. Vessel constraints are paramount; the ice being "fast-ice" close to shore, meaning the ice has frozen to the shore.

Apparently, the T/V Renda carries up to a mile of 4" hose on a reel. The hose, supported by a snow ramp up onto the quay, where it is connected to a manifold,

and piped a short distance to the tank farm.

The fuel will flow through the hose at a rate of 35,000 gallons an hour. The T/V Renda's cargo is 300,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline and 1,062,000 gallons of #1 arctic grade diesel fuel. [Source: Vitus Marine Emergency Response Plan.]

The State has requested pumping be conducted during daylight hours only, which now are about 5 hours long. A foot patrol will walk the length of the hose every 30:00 minutes to detect leakage.

While this concept is new to Alaska, the T/V Renda makes regular fuel runs in the Russian Eastern frontier, punching ice up to four feet thick, arriving at a village, then running a hose line off a reel, just like Acme Fuel delivers heating oil in Everytown, USA.

So recapping the great "Nome Energy Support Mission," first and foremos, the City of Nome is not, and never was in danger of running out of heating oil, which could have resulted in her 3,468 residents freezing to death, as intimated in many "snooze" channels.

  • A severe storm in November pushed a massive ice field close aboard Nome Alaska, blocking a scheduled fuel delivery barge, by Foss Maritime towing a Delta Western petroleum barge. Bonanza Fuel initiated efforts for a winter delivery of fuel by contracting Vitus Marine, holder of an approved state Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan (ODPCP), to arrange a fuel delivery for late December or early January.
  • Vitus Marine chartered the tank vessel (T/V) Renda, a double-hulled, ice-strengthened Russian tanker, to deliver approximately 1,062,000 gallons of #1 diesel fuel and 300,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline.
  • Tanker Renda sailed from Vladivostok on December 19, 2011, to Yosu South Korea, where she loaded 1,062,000 gallons of #1 diesel.
  • From Yosu, South Korea, T/V Renda arrived in Dutch Harbor.
  • After passing Coast Guard and State of Alaska inspections, she loaded an additional 300,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline at Delta Western's Depot.
[Editors Note. I found an entry that the unleaded gasoline was supposed to be loaded in Japan! But the blend was for "California" not Alaska. That is why the unleaded was picked up at Dutch Harbor. Am I the only one asking, "Why was 'California' blend unleaded gasoline being ready for shipment from Japan?"]
  • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) was asked to make the cutter Healy available to provide safety cover and break ice for the T/V Renda as she traveled from Dutch Harbor to Nome.
  • December 30, 2011, at the request of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano granted the waiver on of the "Jones Act.," allowing a foreign vessel, T/V Renda, to haul cargo between two American ports, with a foreign (Russian) crew.
  • The T/V Renda departed Dutch Harbor, beginning 659 nm (1,220 km) including approximately 340 miles of pack ice to Nome, Alaska.
  • January 12, the Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Renda stopped six miles offshore to wait for daylight and figure out how to get the tanker within about a mile of the harbor so its hose will reach the dock.
  • January 13. Nome Mayor Denise Nichels sat in her car Friday morning in record-breaking low temperatures and gazed past the harbor entrance. Her eyes focused on the lights of the tanker and icebreaker just before dawn. "It's right out there. You can see it," she said. "We are pretty excited."
  • January 15. Mission Completed.

The Tanker Vessel T/V Renda is a 371-foot, Russian-registered vessel with an ice classification of UL 1 (equivalent to the Baltic Ice Class 1A). Length: 113 meters (371 feet) Beam: 18 meters (59 feet) Molded Depth: 8.5 meters (28 feet.)

In response to the US Coast Guard inquiry as to the sea worthiness of the T/V Renda, to make the trip to Nome, it was reported than in June of 2010, T/V Renda made two trips throughout Russia's entire Northern Sea Route encountering ice up to nine feet thick "without icebreaker assistance."

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Healy is a 420-foot ice breaker class boat with the capability of passing through 4.5 feet of ice at 4 knots and the ability to break through 8 feet of ice by backing and ramming

Once the T/V Renda secured to shore fast ice, a 4-inch hose will be run from the tanker to the on-shore marine header for fuel transfer, to the Bonanza Fuel tank farm. It is estimated that it will take approximately 36 hours to unload the fuel from the ship. USCG Healy will stand by, to extract the T/V Renda.

Post Script

In Capt. Garay's narrative, he referred to "Pollyannas" encountered whilst transiting the ice field. Actually spelled "Polynya", derived the Russian, polyn'ya. Polynyas are persistent openings in the ice cover that in winter ventilate the warm ocean directly to the cold atmosphere.

Polynyas are an important part in the ecologic system. In the US and Canadian Arctic, most of the whales migrate into the region through passages generated by the spring melt of Polynyas. Sensible Heat Polynya, characterized by rising steam.

Thermodynamically driven, and typically occurs when warm water upwelling keeps the surface water temperature at or above the freezing point, producing a steam cloud. This reduces or completely inhibits ice production.

Suggested Reading: All About Ice. Here you can read about ice differences between Arctic and Antarctic ice. Yes, all ice is not the same. Text and diagrams show what it takes to create and maintain an ice field. And much, much more!

Oil-Electric Factoid: "In the process of freezing, the salt in seawater is expelled as brine. The degree to which this rejection progresses takes place increases as the rate of freezing decreases. By the time sea ice is one year old, it is classified as multi-year sea or polar ice, and when melted. And, is perfectly safe to melt and drink!"

Most photographs courtesy US Coast Guard.

See Also:
Nome Prepares for Fuel Delivery
Nome Rescue Mission (first article with updates)