Tag Archives: healey icebreaker

Coast Guard patches up broke down icebreaker with surfboard repair kit

The nation who at one time had the world’s largest and best-equipped icebreaker fleet has for years been suffering in that department. So much so that the only true heavy breakers we have under U.S. flag, the 399-foot USCGC Polar Star and Polar Sea, are among the oldest ships in the Coast Guard (who is known for having “veteran” platforms) and are uber-cranky.

The 399-foot Polar Star. Top of the line in icebreakers 1977-2010. However, note no visable weapons. For scientific missions these are not needed. However for soverignty missions, are a must.

The 399-foot Polar Star. Top of the line in icebreakers in 1977

The crew of the recently returned to duty cutter Polar Star responded to four general emergencies during their most recent deployment to Antarctica. A “general emergency” is a situation in which the crew and the cutter are in serious danger if the not remedied quickly. The crew experienced three fires and one major lube oil leak, which can quickly ignite into fire.

One of which required an out-of-the-box fix.

Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Oakes, an electrician’s mate aboard the Polar Star, used a surfboard repair kit to fix one of the cutter’s generators after the system shorted out and began smoking. The crew had lost power to one of their propellers en route to Antarctica leaving them with reduced power Dec. 13. The crew could not get specially designed replacement parts for the 40-year-old generator in time for the crew to execute their mission to Antarctica; however, with a little online research and brainstorming, Oakes used one of his shipmate’s surfboard repair kits to fabricate a new replacement part allowing the Polar Star’s crew to continue their mission.

More here

Nome is Freezing, at least we still have ONE icebreaker left!

The Healy, left, a Coast Guard icebreaker, carves a path in the frozen Bering Sea for the Renda, a Russian tanker carrying 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel for Alaska. Shipping delays and a major storm prevented Nome's winter supply of fuel from arriving in early fall. USCG photo

 

After last week’s artcile on the status of the US Icebreaker fleet as of 2012, this is a stark reminder!

The small town of Nome Alaska is at the mercy of severe winter. Apparently it was avoidable. They are out of gas and the nearest station is more than 700-miles away. With no roads connecting it to the interior, air resupply impractical, and the ocean frozen solid since October, its time to call in the icebreakers

I mean icebreaker…..We only have one and its been deployed around the world for the past eight months. In fact, it should be in the yard right now getting repaired to go to Antarctica in March….but we cant spare it.

From The NYT:

By

 

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Russian tanker Renda in the frozen Bering Sea.

Benjamin Nocerini/U.S. Coast Guard, via Associated Press

The Russian tanker Renda is slogging through ice behind the Healy, a Coast Guard icebreaker.

Parents still read books to their children about what happened next: Balto, Togo, Fritz and dozens more sled dogs sprinted through subzero temperatures across 674 miles of sea ice and tundra in what became known as the Great Race of Mercy. The medicine made it, Nome was saved and the Siberian huskies became American heroes.

Eighty-seven years later, Nome is again locked in a dark and frigid winter — a record cold spell has pushed temperatures to minus 40 degrees, cracked hotel pipes and even reduced turnout at the Mighty Musk Oxen’s pickup hockey games. And now another historic rescue effort is under way across the frozen sea.

Yet while the dogs needed only five and a half days, Renda the Russian tanker has been en route for nearly a month — and it is unclear whether she will ever arrive. The tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring not medicine but another commodity increasingly precious in remote parts of Alaska: fuel, 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to heat snow-cloaked homes and power the growing number of trucks, sport utility vehicles and snow machines that have long since replaced dogsleds.

For the moment, this latest tale appears less likely to produce a warm children’s book than an embarrassing memo, and maybe a few lawsuits, about how it all could have been avoided.

“People need to get fired over this,” said David Tunley, one of the few Musk Oxen at the outdoor rink on an evening when the temperature was minus 23. “The litigation of whose fault it is will probably go on forever.”

How Nome ended up short on fuel this winter is a complicated issue unto itself, but trying to get the Renda here to help has become a sub-Arctic odyssey — and perhaps a clunky practice run for a future in which climate change and commercial interests make shipping through Arctic routes more common.

“There is a lot of good knowledge that is coming out of this,” said Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, the officer in charge of the Coast Guard in Alaska.

From CNN:

Coast Guard mission to Nome exposes U.S. limits in ice-breaking capability

January 05, 2012|By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
The USCG Cutter Healy will plow a 300-mile-long path for a Russian-flagged tanker this week.

In what may be the furthest thing from a pleasure cruise, the U.S. Coast Guard’s only operating Arctic icebreaker is escorting a Russian-flagged tanker this week on an emergency fuel run to the ice-blocked town of Nome, Alaska.

The mission: Deliver 1.1 million gallons of diesel fuel and 300,000 gallons of gasoline to Nome (population 3,598), where storms prevented a fuel shipment in the fall.

Midweek, the two ships left Dutch Harbor, in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Friday, the ships are expected to encounter the ice, and USCG Cutter Healy will take the lead, plowing a 300-mile-long path for the Russian-flagged tanker Renda.