Coast Guard commences ice breaking in Chesapeake Bay

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard has commenced icebreaking operations in an effort to maintain safe and navigable waterways in and around the Port of Baltimore.

Two 65-foot small harbor tugs from both Coast Guard Sectors Hampton Roads, in Portsmouth, Va., and Sector Delaware Bay, in Philadelphia, Pa., will help maintain waterways and keep them open to commercial vessels.

“The importance of this mission in the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding area is to keep commerce flowing to places that could be critically affected when a barge cannot transport goods,” said Lt. Cmdr. Amy M. Beach, chief of the Ports and Waterways Division at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore.

The Cutter Chock, homeported in Portsmouth, and the Cutter Capstan, homeported in Philadelphia, have been breaking ice in the Wicomico River and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in order to maintain the flow of essential goods, like home heating oil for residents, and to minimize the impact ice may have on the area’s economy.

While the Coast Guard cutters free ships locked in ice and create a navigable route to travel upon, they also retain capabilities to shift to the many other Coast Guard missions, such as search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security. Additionally, breaking up the ice enables other Coast Guard units and first responders to safely respond to emergencies on the water.

The Coast Guard will continue to monitor the upper Chesapeake Bay and surrounding rivers throughout the winter to ensure that ice will have as minimal an impact to the area as possible.

This time of year is especially dangerous due to the freezing water temperatures and mariners are urged to use caution. Additionally, the Coast Guard urges people to not walk across ice. No matter how thick or sturdy it may appear, the potential for a life threatening accident is possible. Mariners can receive information regarding current ice conditions by calling Coast Guard Sector Baltimore’s Ice Information Line at 410-576-2682.

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