Coast Guard breaks ice to relieve flood danger in Maine

The Coast Guard Cutter Bridle breaks ice on the Penobscot River in Maine March 17, 2015. Operation renewable energy for Northeast Winters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore)

The Coast Guard Cutter Bridle breaks ice on the Penobscot River in Maine March 17, 2015. Operation renewable energy for Northeast Winters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore)

BOSTON – Following one the harshest New England winters on record, the Coast Guard is preparing to clear ice jams threatening to flood the Penobscot River banks in Maine.

As the ice chokes points along the winding river, spring runoff from rain and melting snow has nowhere to go but over the banks.

A team of Coast Guard 65-foot Small Harbor Tugs, the Bridle, Tackle, and Shackle, are making way up the Penobscot this week to strategically break the ice and prevent flooding. Designed with sturdy steel hulls, the tugs are capable of breaking 18 inches of ice while moving forward, and 21 inches when backing and ramming into it.

This mission is part of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters (RENEW), the Coast Guard’s region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities had the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources they needed throughout the winter.

“We’ll be working in concert, strategically fanned out along the river to make sure it flows,” said Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore, officer in charge aboard Tackle.

He said while the Penobscot is the current priority, the Coast Guard and other authorities are keeping a close eye on the Kennebec River as well, as both are windy rivers with numerous choke points.

“It’s been a long hard winter for sure – but we’re always ready for spring, no matter the challenge,” he said.

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