Maine based Coast Guard cutters break ice to mitigate flood danger on Kennebec River

Coast Guard Cutter Tackle breaks ice on the Kennebec River, Maine, April 1, 2015. Tackle worked together with Cutters Thunder Bay, Shackle and Bridle to strategically break ice and relieve flooding danger. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

Coast Guard Cutter Tackle breaks ice on the Kennebec River, Maine, April 1, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

BOSTON – The Coast Guard broke ice this week in the main channel of the Kennebec River from Merrymeeting Bay to Gardiner, Maine. This reduced the risk of ice jam flooding as snow and river ice melt.

Spring runoff from rain and melting snow can cause choke points along winding rivers. These ice jams can result in rivers overrunning their banks, leading to flooding in local communities. To prevent this on the Kennebec river, the Coast Guard deployed all four ice breaking tugs homeported in Maine to strategically break ice and relieve flooding danger. In a multi-day operation, Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug and Coast Guard Cutter Tackle, a 65-foot small harbor tug, joined two other 65-foot tugs, Coast Guard Cutter  Shackle and Coast Guard Cutter Bridle. These cutters worked in concert to break up large sections of ice into manageable sections that can more easily flow through choke points and out to sea.

The Kennebec River Spring Break-out is an interagency operation managed by Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, in close partnership with Maine Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Department of Transportation, and Maine Marine Patrol. Since early March, these agencies have met weekly to assess the risk of flooding potential in Maine and how to reduce the risks with preventative icebreaking.

Through the deep freeze of winter, these Coast Guard cutters have worked tirelessly to facilitate the movement of petroleum products, passenger ferries, and fishing vessels throughout the Northeast. This ice-breaking mission supported Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters, the Coast Guard’s region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities had the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources they needed throughout the winter. Cutter Thunder Bay was deployed 61-days on the Hudson River, New York before returning to Maine to lead the Maine river icebreaking operations. The cutters worked the Penobscot last week, and the Kennebec River this week.

“The Coast Guard has helped reduce ice jam flooding in the Kennebec River for decades and we are excited we had the opportunity to assist once again,” said Lt. David Bourbeau, Chief of the Waterways Management Division for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

Cutters Thunder Bay and Tackle are home-ported in Rockland. Cutter Shackle and Bridle are home-ported in Portland and Southwest Harbor respectively.

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