The Coast Guard has commenced icebreaking operations on the Hudson River as temperatures continue to fall and waters freeze. A fleet of Coast Guard icebreaking ships – or cutters – will help maintain waterways used by commercial vessel traffic in the Port of New York / New Jersey and up the Hudson River to Albany, from now until the end of March 2011. The mission is vital for upstate New York’s residents and the area’s economy.
“An average of 300 vessels transit the Hudson River during the winter months, carrying over 5 million barrels of petroleum products to the communities of this northern region,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kary Moss, Coast Guard Sector New York’s Aid to Navigation and Ice Officer. “This includes home heating oil, which impacts hundreds of thousands of people in our area.”
The Coast Guard maintains a presence on the river during icebreaking season, which typically runs from Dec. 15 until the end of March, despite fluctuations in the amount of ice that actually occurs.
“The Coast Guard’s domestic icebreaking operations are intended to minimize waterways closures during the winter, while enabling commercial vessels to transit through ice-covered critical channels,” Moss said. “In addition to our icebreakers, the Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts daily reconnaissance flights, providing updated information about ice conditions, which is then transmitted to waterway users.”
While Coast Guard icebreaker crews free ships locked in ice and create a navigable route to travel upon, they also retain capabilities to shift to other Coast Guard missions such as search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security.