Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay returns home following one of the harshest winters on record

Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay breaks ice in the Hudson River near Catskill, N.Y., on March 3, 2015, in support of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters. OP RENEW is the Coast Guard's region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, energy and emergency resources they need throughout the winter. (Coast Guard photo by Lt. Ken Sauerbrunn)

Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay breaks ice in the Hudson River near Catskill, N.Y., on March 3, 2015, in support of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters (OP RENEW)\(Coast Guard photo by Lt. Ken Sauerbrunn)

BOSTON — Following a 61-day deployment on the Hudson River, the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay returned to their homeport of Rockland, Maine yesterday after conducting icebreaking operations in support of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters.

Operation RENEW is the Coast Guard’s region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, and emergency resources needed throughout the winter.

The Thunder Bay deployed mid-January to coordinate daily ice breaking operations with Coast Guard Cutters Sturgeon Bay, Willow, Elm, and Wire on the Hudson River. In order to keep the channel open to commercial shipping traffic, the Thunder Bay conducted operations seven days a week, with only occasional days off. They navigated more than 100 river miles daily and by the end of the season the Thunder Bay had sailed nearly 3000 nautical miles, conducted 554 hours of icebreaking, and made 70 vessel and facility break outs, requiring them to operate an additional 13 days beyond their original assignment.

“This was a very challenging winter for not just our cutter but for every one out here. We worked hard to meet our mission objectives,” said Lt. Zac Bender, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay.

Throughout their deployment, Thunder Bay’s crew was responsible for maintaining the track and clearing choke points along the Hudson. Even with icebreaking assistance, a voyage that would normally take 18 hours in the summer would stretch to 40 hours this winter. Without Coast Guard icebreaking operations in the Hudson, the cargo carried by these ships would simply not be able to reach their destination.

“Long deployments like we’ve just experienced require an immense amount of sacrifice from both our crew and their families. It is great to be home knowing that what we did on the Hudson made a difference,” said Bender.

The Thunder Bay will continue their icebreaking efforts in Maine next week to help prevent flooding from ice jams.

The Thunder Bay is a 140-foot Ice Breaking Tug, homeported in Rockland, Maine. They have a crew of 17. Their primary mission is domestic ice
breaking.

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