“Icebreaking is a very, as you
might imagine, violent activity. It’s
hard on the crews. Eight hours of
breaking ice, going through that
vibration on the ship, takes a toll
on your legs, it’s tiring. Even rest
— even just sitting down and eating — is not particularly enjoyable,” he said.
“When you tie up for the night
at a safe spot, everybody is just
exhausted. You collapse. You wake
up again. You do it the next day.
We had 65-footers that had done
that for 10 to 14 days at a time, and
that is an impressive testament to
the dedication and commitment of
our crews and to their training, but
it’s a lot to ask. And the circumstances of such a hard winter
demanded it this year.”
“I think we really felt the responsibility to the people we served to do
our best, so I think that was a huge driving force of the
work this winter,” Ridgeway said in a phone interview.
“People of New England were depending on us and we
were the only asset around that could perform this
mission. That was a huge motivating factor.
“We wouldn’t change too many things about this
winter. We gained a lot of experience and, as a crew, it
really brought us together. It’s winters like these that
keep the 65-foot icebreaking fleet around,” he said.
The 52-year-old Pendant at one stretch broke ice on
45 out of 50 days, according to Ridgeway, and took a
pretty good beating during the season. The tug sustained a hull breach in mid-February, but got patched
up by Massachusetts State Police divers and was back
in action within 24 hours.
Pendant’s season, however, came to an abrupt halt in
early March when it ran over a mooring ball that was
obscured by ice near Logan Airport and got tangled in
the ball’s 1-inch chain.
“The sea temperature was coming up and the air
temperatures were above freezing, so our intentions
were to come to homeport, tie up and reassess the ice
for a few days and see if we’d be heading back out,”
Ridgeway said. “We were cutting a track behind Logan
Airport, probably in 18 inches of ice or so, and we realized we’d hit something. The previous patch in the hull
was breached again and we were taking on water.
“We were set in the ice. We weren’t going anywhere,
and I had to figure out if we still had something
wrapped around our shaft or in our prop. We quickly
realized whatever it was, was still there and may be
connected to the bottom as well.”
The crew ended up contacting the same state police
divers who helped out during the first hull breach, and
they came out to the Pendant in an airboat. They found
that the chain was, in fact, wrapped around the pro-
peller and shaft, and attached to a concrete sinker at
the bottom, but were able to get the tug free — though
a man-sized chunk was missing from one of the pro-
“Having them come out proved to be the best decision we could have made. If we had had another asset
come and tow us with that chain still anchored to the
bottom, it potentially could have ripped our shaft out
and caused more damage to the boat,” Ridgeway said.
Pendant was able to get back to port in Boston, but
went into emergency drydock two weeks later, during
which it got a new shaft and propeller, had a bent
motor mount repaired and 17 feet of hull replaced.
The tug returned to port in late April and is “ready
to go right now,” Ridgeway said. It was scheduled to
get underway June 9 for its “summer job” of maintaining aids-to-navigation in its southern area of operations in Cohasset, Mass.
Along with training and maintenance, Thunder Bay
will be spending the summer performing its secondary
mission of helping out with lobster fishery enforcement in Maine, according to Bender.
The Coast Guard 140-foot icebreaking tug Thunder Bay breaks ice on the
Hudson River Feb. 5 to keep shipping channels open between Kingston and
Albany, N.Y. Homeported in Rockland, Maine, Thunder Bay deployed to the
Hudson for 61 days in midwinter to facilitate the shipping of vital supplies such
as home heating oil in support of Operation RENEW.