Coast Guard sets ice condition 3 for Delaware Bay and tributaries

Coast Guard Cutter Capstan icebreaking file photo

Coast Guard Cutter Capstan breaks ice on the Delaware River, Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham

PHILADELPHIA — The Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Captain of the Port (COTP) set ice condition three Tuesday, and cautions mariners to be aware of ice formation on the Delaware Bay and its tributaries.

Ice condition three is set when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of ice in navigable waters.

The COTP of Delaware Bay is notifying mariners that ice condition 3 has been set for the Port, which includes the Delaware Bay and River, the C&D Canal, Cape May Harbor and Canal and the Intracoastal Waterway.

All masters, ship agents, owners and operators of all vessels, marine facilities and marinas are encouraged to report observed ice conditions to the Sector Delaware Bay command center at 215-271-4940. Additionally, mariners should review and prepare for the seasonal ice procedures below:

  • When ice is present, but less than two inches, vessels must have a propulsion system with adequate horsepower, and be able to maneuver unassisted through the ice without needing to stop, back off and ram the ice.
  • Vessel moorings should be checked frequently to ensure vessels are adequately moored.
  • Vessels at anchor should maintain their engines on standby at all times.
  • Vessel sea chests should be checked regularly for ice buildup and precautions should be taken to ensure that the sea chests are kept clear.
  • Vessels at anchor should ensure that proper bridge watches are stood at all times.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has imposed steel hull restrictions on the C&D Canal.
  • The Sector Delaware Bay COTP may establish additional requirements for specific geographical areas of the COTP zone if conditions warrant such restrictions.

Ice related vessel and waterway restrictions are announced via Coast Guard broadcast notices to mariners, five times daily at 3 a.m., 7:05 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. local time on marine band radio VHF-FM channel 22A.

The status for local waterways can also be found at or by calling the Sector Delaware Bay ice line at 215-271-4995.

The status and extent of these restrictions are continuously evaluated, as ice condition reports are received and assessed.

“It’s important to always check and monitor the marine weather forecast before any trip on the water,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, the Commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “High winds, cold weather, and dropping temperatures are good reasons to re-evaluate an outing. If you must go out, we recommend using the buddy system and filing a float plan with a family member or friend. Letting someone responsible know where you are going and when you will be back could save your life if something unexpected happens.”

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