Bangor, Maine, on the Penobscot River until really the
Jan. 1 time frame. And then, within two weeks, everything just froze solidly and did so simultaneously in
multiple areas at once.
“The biggest challenge that we faced was the accumulation of ice in a very short period of time. By the
end of January, we were breaking hard in a lot of locations,” he said.
Operation RENEW is similar to the Coast Guard icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes. There, in
Operation Taconite on the western Great Lakes and
Operation Coal Shovel on Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake
Ontario and the Detroit River, cutters and the heavy icebreaker Mackinaw maintain channels for maritime commerce and help break out freighters caught in ice jams.
Key to Operation RENEW is maintaining home
heating oil availability. According to Coast Guard statistics, 75 percent of all heating oil used in the country
is transported through New England, New York and
New Jersey, and 90 percent of that is delivered by
barges through Coast Guard-protected ports.
As part of Operation RENEW in 2014, the Coast
Guard facilitated the movement of an estimated 7.96
million barrels of petroleum products and an estimated
297,000 tons of dry bulk products in the Northeast,
with a total value near $2 billion.
The Hudson River is a major artery for those deliveries, with an average of 300 vessels transiting the river
during the winter months carrying more 10 million
barrels of petroleum products to Northeast communities, according to the Coast Guard. Among those who
helped clear the way for those vessels and their precious cargo during the worst of the winter was LT Zac
Bender, commander of the Bay-class 140-foot icebreaking tug Thunder Bay.
“We had a 61-day deployment to New York,” he said
in a phone interview from the tug’s homeport in
Rockland, Maine. “We started at the end of January
and were there until mid-March. It was a very busy
winter. We were frequently operating seven days a
week, sunrise to sunset. It’s a very tough schedule. We
knew it was very likely to be a challenging winter even
before it started, just with having to go to New York
and help out down there.”
23 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
A Coast Guard crew aboard a 45-foot response boat patrols Boston Harbor on Jan. 8 amid sea smoke, a natural occurrence that happens when exceptionally cold air moves in over warmer water. In this case, the water temperature was
39 degrees Fahrenheit while the air temperature dipped to 2 below zero. It was a sign of things to come for the
Northeast last winter, which was the worst in a decade.