* Vessel brings emergency fuel supplies to U.S. town
* Tanker ploughs through two-feet-thick ice on 10-day voyage
By Alissa de Carbonnel
MOSCOW, Jan 13 A Russian tanker escorted
by the U.S. Coast Guard reached the frozen Alaskan port of Nome
with emergency fuel supplies on Friday after a 10-day voyage
through ice-choked seas, the Russian company that owns the
The mission to Nome is the first mid-winter marine delivery
to western Alaska and comes as oil and gas development and
climate change increase commercial traffic along trade routes in
The Russian ship, the Renda, got an exemption last month
from U.S. maritime law for the journey after the city of 3,600
missed its final scheduled barge delivery before winter when one
of the worst storms in decades swept the northwest coastal town.
"The Renda has reached Nome. It has stopped 8 miles out at
the edge of the ice. People are relieved and resting now. It is
night there now," Fazil Aliyev, the general director of the
Russian shipping firm that owns the Renda, told Reuters.
"We will start offloading (fuel) in the morning," he said by
telephone from Russia's Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok
where the company, RIMSCO, is based.
The Renda is carrying about 1.3 million gallons of
Arctic-grade diesel and gasoline, according to Vitus Marine, the
Anchorage-based company that arranged for the special delivery.
Even with the U.S. Coast Guard's only functioning
icebreaker, the Healy, slicing a path for the Renda through
Bering Sea ice as thick as 24 inches (60 cm), slow progress had
raised doubts about whether it would reach the port.
Emergency deliveries by air would have been needed if the
Renda had failed to get to Nome.
The Renda herself has cut across Russia's Arctic coastline
several times this year from Europe and Asia. As Arctic ice
receded to its second-lowest point on record last summer, Aliyev
said RIMSCO took a tanker through the Northern Sea Route as late
"This is routine work for us," he said of the Renda's trip.
Only a cautious approach taken by the U.S. Coast Guard and lack
of icebreaker experience, slowed the Renda's journey, he said.
"There are many places were we could have easily moved
through (the ice) but we are following coast guards' orders. If
they say we have to stand still at night, we wait," Aliyev said.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)