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Homeland Security grants waiver of Jones Act for Nome fuel delivery

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has granted a waiver of the Jones Act, permitting the Russian ice-class marine tanker Renda to transport gasoline from Dutch Harbor to Nome, Alaska. Sitnasuak Native Corporation (SNC) of Nome had signed a contract with Vitus Marine LLC to deliver 1.5 million gallons of petroleum products to Nome via the Russian ice-class tanker.  The Renda is scheduled to arrive in Dutch Harbor late on January 2.  Delivery to Nome is scheduled for early January. 

If successful, the Renda’s voyage will mark the first time that a commercial vessel has navigated through the ice to deliver petroleum products.  Key to the voyage is the assistance of the U.S. coast Guard ice breaker Healy which will escort the Renda.  Nome has faced a pending fuel crisis since the regular fall fuel barge did not arrive.

The “Jones Act” states, that no merchandise shall be transported between points in the U.S. in any vessel other than a vessel built and owned by citizens of the United States.  The Renda is a double-hulled Ice Classed Russian tanker.  The waiver of the Jones Act was requested by Vitus Marine and SNC when the Renda was unable to load unleaded arctic grade gasoline in Northern Japan due to a gale.

The Jones Act waiver is granted “in the interest of national defense” following a determination by the Maritime Administration at the Department of Transportation. SNC and Vitus have been working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard on all aspects of the planned voyage and delivery. “We are profoundly grateful for the work of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation,  and the Governor and the Coast Guard, as they have provided assistance to Sitnasuak throughout the fuel crisis,” said SNC Board Chairman Jason Evans.  “In partnership with Vitus Marine, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the City of Nome, we look forward to a successful resolution to this complex problem.”

SNC is the Native village corporation for Nome and is owned by 2,400 Inupiat Eskimos who either live in Nome or who have family ties to Nome.

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