Coast Guard crews prepare to break up ice in Maine rivers

PORTLAND, Maine- Coast Guard crews in Maine are preparing for ice-breaking missions on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers in the coming weeks.

The Coast Guard has been breaking ice on the Penobscot River since Dec. 15, to keep the waterway open for a barge shipment to the Cianbro facility in Brewer, Maine, scheduled for March 10.

Coast Guard cutters will escort the deck barge when it arrives and departs the facility, helping to break up any icy patches along the way.

“Our crews have been working on the river all winter in anticipation of this important shipment to Cianbro,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Chase, the aids to navigation officer at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “The barge will serve as a platform for a building project at the facility that could bring 500 jobs to Brewer.”

Flood relief efforts also begin in April, for a two to three week period, on the Kennebec River to clear ice and prevent the river from damming, which can lead to flooding during the spring thaw.

Since 2000, the Coast Guard has coordinated with key stakeholders and government agencies before each ice season and spring thaw to discuss strategy, predict ice-related flooding scenarios, and establish targeted ice breaking windows to reduce flooding risks.

Coast Guard crews on four different cutters break ice throughout the winter and spring as far north as Gardiner, Maine, on the Kennebec and Bangor, Maine, on the Penobscot.

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