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Coast Guard working to break up ice on the Penobscot River

It’s that time of year again when Coast Guard cutters are out in full force breaking up the ice.
The United States Coast Guard continued ice breaking operations throughout Northeast on...
The United States Coast Guard continued ice breaking operations throughout Northeast on Wednesday.(WABI)
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 5:54 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - You may have seen the Coast Guard if you were near the Penobscot River in Bangor on Wednesday.

It’s that time of year again when their cutters are out in full force breaking up the ice.

Coast Guard officials say “This is done to allow the river to open earlier, aiding in the spring thaw, to avoiding flooding along the Kenduskeag Stream and other areas along the Penobscot River.”

People watched from the shore as the Bridle and Shackle got to work.

“Crews aboard the 140-foot CGC Thunder Bay, 65-foot CGC Bridle, and 65-foot CGC Tackle all assisted in the effort to open the waters of the Penobscot River. This is done to allow the river to open earlier, aiding in the spring thaw, to avoiding flooding along the Kenduskeag Stream and other areas along the Penobscot River.”

The icebreaking operations are supporting Operation Reliable Energy for Winters in the northeast. We’re told that effort helps communities from New York to Maine have necessary supplies for the season.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, “More than 85 percent of all home heating oil used in the U.S. is consumed in the Northeast, and 90 percent of that is delivered by ship on a Coast Guard-maintained waterway. In addition to ensuring communities get the supplies they need, the Coast Guard also prioritizes search and rescue, ice rescue and assisting vessels beset by ice. On average, the Coast Guard assists over 100 vessels that become stuck in ice yearly.”

“There is a lot of training, preparation, and maintenance that goes on throughout the year to ensure we are ready to answer the call during what we call ‘ice season’”, said Chief Petty Officer Shae Currington, an officer in charge of Coast Guard Cutter Shackle. “The crew takes pride in providing responsive action to the members of our communities, whether it be a fishing vessel beset by ice or flood relief along the Penobscot River.”

Coast Guard officials say breaking this ice helps keep waterways clear so cargo ships, passenger ferries, and commercial fishing boats can get through.

Bangor Fire Chief Tom Higgins said, “We appreciate the cooperation and support of the U.S. Coast Guard each year. We know how much the community enjoys seeing these vessels in the Penobscot, and it’s the culmination of many months of work with between the City and the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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