Coast Guard completes mid-winter ice-breaking effort on Kennebec River in Maine

Coast Guard Cutter Bridle file photo by Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore)

Coast Guard Cutter Bridle file photo by Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore

BOSTON – The Coast Guard completed their ice-breaking operations on the Kennebec River, in Maine, Monday following a seven-day push that extended to Richmond, Maine.

In response to the Maine Emergency Management Agency’s request to break out the Kennebec River, the Coast Guard relocated the 140-foot Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay, (Bayonne, NJ), and 65-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bridle (Southwest Harbor, ME), Coast Guard Cutter Shackle (South Portland, ME), and Coast Guard Cutter Tackle (Rockland, ME) in a coordinated effort to break out and improve the flow of the ice-jammed river.

The Coast Guard cutters spent portions of the week breaking ice from Bath, Maine, up to the Maine-Kennebec Bridge in Richmond. The mid-winter break-out created challenging ice conditions for the cutters which often made it necessary for them to use a time consuming process called the back and ram method. The Penobscot Bay, the largest ice breaker involved in the effort, spent two days breaking through the ice near Chops Point, Maine, encountering ice up to five feet thick in some areas.

“In order to improve the flow of the river, our cutters not only have to break the ice, but they have to make sure it flushes down the river,” said Capt. Michael Baroody, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “The below freezing temperatures, narrow navigational channels, and significant ice accumulation made it very difficult to properly flush out the ice. It took a tremendous effort from our ice breakers to reach Richmond and we did everything we could despite the challenging conditions.”

At the request of local emergency officials, the Penobscot Bay is relocating to the Penobscot River where they will break out the river up to Bangor, Maine.

The Coast Guard is also repositioning the three 65-foot cutters back to their homeports where they can respond to requests for ice breaking assistance and help facilitate the safe navigation of vessels transiting in Northern New England’s coastal waters.

The Coast Guard will continue to work with local and state emergency management officials to coordinate the date for the traditional spring break out of the Kennebec River and for any other ice breaking needs the remainder of the winter.

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