Thursday, January 12, 2012

A pathetic inadequacy

In marked contrast to the Okhotsk Sea drama of last year, which the western media virtually ignored, the Daily Wail is crawling all over the Bering Sea drama which we reported yesterday.

Unaware of last year's background, when the Russians were facing far greater challenges, in terms of the size of the ships stranded, the number, the weather conditions and the thickness of the ice, the Wail is taking the US coastguard spin and bigging up the "feat" when in fact, what we actually have is a demonstration of the pathetic inadequacy of the US icebreaking capability.

That much was rehearsed by the Alaska Dispatch back in October, when it warned of an icebreaker shortage, noting that two of America's three heavy-duty icebreakers – the 1970s-era Polar Sea and the Polar Star – were sidelined in Seattle after years of repairs to keep them going.

It then noted that the 12-year-old Healy was the only working icebreaker in the U.S. Coast Guard fleet. While the Healy boasts first-rate on board scientific labs, the paper said, "it's only able to negotiate through thin ice".

Thus we have chickens coming home to roost. After years of warmist propaganda, Alaska is suffering a ferocious winter, and the US government has been caught out, totally unprepared to deal with the conditions.

That notwithstanding, ice thickness is reported at only 2.5 feet – compared with 20ft hummocks in the Okhtotsk Sea last year. The challenge facing the Healy is therefore relatively modest. Yet the latest report from the Alaska Dispatch has the icebreaker and the Russian tanker Renda losing 4-5 miles of ground drifting south with the ice pack last night, leaving the vessels 100 miles south of Nome.

Yesterday was a "Logistics Day" and Healy was not as focused on icebreaking, rather on safely deploying their on-board helicopter. The helicopter arrived into Nome about 12:30 p.m. to fly out a consultant for Vitus Marine out to the scene. The consultant is retired Coast Guard Admiral Jeff Garrett with extensive ice-breaking experience. With that, little progress was expected.

Back in October last, Alaska Senator. Mark Begich on introduced legislation to address the US shortage of icebreakers by requiring the Coast Guard to operate at least two heavy-duty icebreakers and boosting the Coast Guard presence in Alaska.

Not referred to was the lack of the close-coupled towing capability, for which the Russians (and the Finns and Swedes) are famous. For want of this, the ignorant Wail, reiterating the US Coast Guard spin, tells us that maneuvering (sic) is now a problem.

The tanker must stay close enough to its Coast Guard escort [so that] that the lanes through the ice [do not] freeze back over. That distance, says the paper, puts the two vessels at risk of slamming into each other – which is exactly why the close-coupled tow was developed - see below, with the Bereg Nadezhdy refrigerator vessel under tow in the Okhotsk Sea. (Below that is the Oden - link to YouTube film - doing the honours in the Gulf of Bothnia.)

Overall then, what comes over is not only the pathetic inadequacy of the US Coast Guard, but the similar inadequacy of the general media when it comes to telling the full story and getting to the real issues. And, as always, what is not reported is more interesting than what is actually on offer.

But, as long as people only read the MSM, they will never know.