ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The U.S. Coast Guard assisted ships needing access to ports in these very cold temperatures by literally breaking the ice.
“It’s vital that we keep these navigation channels open… we’ve got to keep them open to get the heating oil and other products down river so they can get out to the people who need them most,” said Steve Strohmaier, Public Affairs Officer.
Heating oil is a precious commodity, especially right now in the state of New York when many are in short supply.
“About 90% of that heating oil that we use in the Northeast is brought in by tug and barge,” Strohmaier said.
The captain of the Sturgeon Bay ship says despite the shortage, the concept of an ice breaking ship making way for commercial barges is nothing new.
“Every year the northeast region of the United States does what’s called ‘Operation Renew.’ It’s a Coast Guard region wide effort to make sure that the population in the Northeast gets their home heating oil and other supplies and emergency resources,” said Lt. John Foster, captain.
Foster said that this southbound vessel can break through ice up to three feet deep.
“Our hole is specially designed to actually break through the ice. It’s kind of shaped like a football with a hole in the bottom where the keel is. And then we actually have a device that injects air from underneath the ship and shoots outwards. And that air helps to lubricate the hole so we can actually move through the ice faster,” Foster said.