Coast Guard to conduct Kennebec River ice breaking operations

Coast Guard Sector New England LogoPORTLAND, Maine β€” As Coast Guard units in Maine prepare for ice-breaking operations on the Kennebec River, the public is being advised to remove their fish shacks as soon as possible, if safe to do so.

“All persons should remove ice fishing shacks from the Kennebec River and should proceed with extreme caution in areas where the Coast Guard will break ice” said Chief Warrant Officer Bob Albert, the ice operations mission manager for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

Due to forecasted precipitation March 10-11, Coast Guard ice breaking operations may begin as soon as Friday, March 11, to reduce the risk of property damage if the excessive rain creates ice jams and flooding.

If no urgent flood relief ice breaking operations are needed, the Coast Guard plans to commence Kennebec River “Spring Break-Out” ice operations on Monday, March 14, 2011.

The operations, which focus ice breaking efforts of several Coast Guard cutters in the Kennebec River, are managed by Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland, in close partnership with Maine Emergency Management Agency, Maine Marine Patrol, National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other federal, state, county, and local agencies.

During the Kennebec River Spring Break-Out, the Coast Guard will break ice from Merrymeeting Bay, Maine, to Gardiner, Maine, to reduce risk of property damage caused by flooding as inland snow and river ice begins to melt and flow out to sea. The 140-foot Rockland-based ice breaking tug Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, along with 65-foot Portland-based ice breaking tug Coast Guard Cutter Shackle, 65-foot Rockland-based ice breaking tug Coast Guard Cutter Tackle and 65-foot Southwest Harbor-based ice breaking tug Coast Guard Cutter Bridle will work during the operation.

All Coast Guard cutters will be staged in Bath, Maine, this week ahead of the forecasted late-week weather system, which may require the operation to begin earlier than expected if ice jams form as a result of excessive rain.

“The Kennebec River breakout is one sure sign that spring is coming,” said Capt. James McPherson, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. β€œIt is the pinnacle event of the Coast Guard’s ice breaking season in Northern New England and is made possible through the close coordination we have with our federal, state, county and local officials. This major preventative effort allows us to clear a significant portion of river ice in the Kennebec that if left untouched, could pose a serious flooding threat as we move in to the spring season.”

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