USCG Cutters begin ice-breaking season

Photo: US Coast Guard

With the U.S. National Weather Service reporting frigid arctic air settling over New England Thursday night with lows in the single digits, U.S. Coast Guard cutters are poised to work hard to keep vital shipping lanes open during the ice-breaking season.

The season officially started on December 12th and runs through March. During the Coast Guard’s 2016-2017 winter ice breaking season, known as Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters (RENEW), the Coast Guard will conduct ice breaking operations for several reasons:

  • To facilitate security operations with ports, waterways and coastal security missions
  • To help prevent loss of life on the water and ashore when impacted by ice
  • To provide urgent response to vessels that are directly impacted by ice
  • To support communities that have need for fuel, food and medical supplies
  • To assist in preventing or easing flood conditions
  • To meet the reasonable demands of commerce to facilitate navigation on frozen, navigable waterways

OP RENEW is the Coast Guard’s region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources they need throughout the winter. Coast Guard units throughout the Northeast have been busy preparing for Operation RENEW by conducting training operations and prioritizing efforts.

Some aids-to-navigation might be off station due to the ice accumulation and floes. Coast Guard buoy tenders work vital ice-breaking operations and will get off-station discrepant aids to navigation operational as quickly as possible.

More than 80% of the nation’s homes heating oil needs are in the northeastern U.S., and 90% of that fuel will be delivered, at some point, by barge through Coast Guard Northeast Waters.

To conduct operation RENEW, Coast Guard crews will use:

  • 140-foot Seagoing Icebreaking Tugs
  • 65-foot Small Harbor Tugs
  • 225-foot Juniper Class Buoy Tenders
  • 175-foot Keeper Class Buoy Tenders
  • 49-foot Buoy Utility Stern Loading (BUSL) boat
  • U.S. Coast Guard Aircraft
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Aircraft

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