Coast Guard increases readiness capabilities, warns mariners of potential for icing conditions

BOSTON – As temperatures continue to dive well below freezing, the Coast Guard is operating at an increased state of readiness and is urging mariners to take extra precautions to avoid icing conditions on their vessels.

Icing occurs when rain or ocean spray freezes above a vessel’s waterline, causing the center of gravity to rise rapidly, making the vessel more susceptible to capsizing. Additionally, the added weight reduces the space between the waterline and the edge of the deck, causing the deck to become easily submerged, especially in rough seas.

In addition to Coast Guard cutters already on patrol, response cutters are currently prepared to get underway within two hours of notification rather than the standard time of six hours.

“Our apprehension level is higher at this time of year,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Johnson, a search and rescue coordinator at the First District Command Center. “We’re much more aggressive with our response when the possibility of icing conditions is present.”

Below are some things boat crews can do to minimize icing conditions.

  • Maintain radio communication with other vessels and shore side regularly
  • Keep lifesaving equipment clear of ice and ready for use
  • Boats can steam downwind to reduce the speed of ice formation
  • Stow as much gear as possible below deck to limit surfaces ice can form on
  • Keep freezing ports clear of ice to allow rapid drainage of water
  • Remove as much ice accumulation as is safe for current weather conditions

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