Archive for January 20, 2012

FRIDAY FOTO: January 20, 2012

Breaking Away

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Benjamin Nocerini)

Take a look at all that frozen wasteland. The Russian tanker Renda follows a path through the ice of the Bering Sea made by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB-20). The Seattle-based Healy – the only polar ice breaker in the U.S. fleet — assisted Renda on its mission to deliver more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel to Nome, Alaska, after a winter storm restricted a scheduled delivery by barge.

The storm prevented November’s scheduled delivery, leaving Nome’s 3,500 residents without enough gasoline and diesel fuel before the next scheduled delivery in late May or June. The 370-foot tanker set out from Russia in mid-December. It stopped in South Korea to pick up diesel fuel and then called at Dutch Harbor, Alaska to load up unleaded gasoline. Renda left the Alaskan port — accompanied by Healy — on Jan. 3.

The 420-foot Healy — yes, the ice breaker is bigger than an oil tanker — is designed to break 4 ½ feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero (Farenheit).Unlike most ocean-going vessels, the Healy has a blunt, rounded bow that enable it to ride up on top of the ice. As the bow goes up and the stern (rear) sinks below the water, the force of buoyancy acting on the submerged part of the stern create a lever-like action bringing Healy’s 16,000 tons down onto the ice — breaking it, according to Lt. Commander Kristen Serumgard of the Coast Guard’s Office of Cutter Forces.

After a 5,000-mile journey, the Renda made it — almost — into port at Nome on Jan. 14. Because of the tremendous amount of ice that was as hard as concrete, the Renda pumped out its cargo through hoses that stretched over 500 yards to the distribution facility. See photo below. The Renda completed pumping out its cargo on Jan. 19.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

To see a slideshow of the two vessels’ mercy mission through 500 miles of ice-packed Bering Sea, click here.

For more information on the Healy’s mission breaking up the ice for the Renda, click here.

To see a short (27 second) video on You Tube of the two ships in the frozen north, click here.

January 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

AF-PAK: Pakistan’s Border Blockade May End Soon

Open Sesame?

Pakistan may be getting ready to reopen key border crossings into Afghanistan, ending a blockade imposed after a NATO air attack mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, according to Reuters.

Trucks waiting to get into Afghanistan might be on the move again. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt Russell Gilchrest)

The news service quoted an unidentified “a senior security official” Jan. 19 that two border checkpoints – closed since late November – would be reopened sometime in the future. The official also said that while trucks carrying crucial supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan would be allowed to pass, Pakistan intends to charge a tax or tariff on the incoming cargo – in part to show its continuing displeasure with U.S. and coalition forces’ activities in the troubled border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But U.S. officials say that Islamabad had not contacted Washington about that reported plan. “We have not, as of this moment, had any official communication from the Government of Pakistan on this subject,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Jan. 19.

At least one Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, is reporting that Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani says Pakistan’s parliament will decide when and if to reopen the border to NATO supply trucks.

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan had been deteriorating since the unannounced U.S. commando raid that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden last May. That embarrassed the Pakistani military and its intelligence service which had claimed bin Laden was not in the country. Then on Nov. 26, more that two dozen Pakistani troops were killed or wounded in a NATO cross-border airstrike on two outposts.

CIA World Factbook

NATO-led coalition forces said the attack was a mistake due to communication and coordination blunders after NATO troops came under fire from the Pakistani side of the border. But Pakistani public officials– already angered by U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistani territory – claimed the attack was deliberate. The U.S. has expressed regret about the incident but has not apologized.

The border shutdown has forced the U.S. and its NATO allies to transport food, fuel and other supplies via other routes at great cost. The Associated Press, citing a Pentagon report, says it now costs about $104 million a month to move the needed cargo via alternate routes – $87 million more per month than it cost before the Pakistanis closed the border. The alternate routes come down from the north after passing through Russia and Central Asia.

The blockade also backed up hundreds of fuel tankers and other trucks, making them vulnerable to attack by insurgents and terrorists.

January 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm 2 comments


January 2012


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