Coast Guard cuts ice to clear way for barges carrying heating oil


ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - From New York City to Albany, the United States Coast Guard is working around the clock aboard the Penobscot Bay Ice Cutter to ensure that barges carrying heating oil can sail safely up the Hudson.

"Literally heating up the whole Northeast by keeping the Hudson River open,” said Commanding Officer Lt. Kristopher Valdez.

Valdez says it's part of Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters.

He says they clear paths for the barges and other vessels to navigate through.

"We either push through the ice if it's thin enough, or if it's thick enough we actually climb up and use the weight of our ship to break the ice,” Valdez explained.

Valdez says their mission is so important because it's cheaper and faster to deliver oil by barge than by truck, and our area uses a lot of it.

"Eighty percent of the heating oil used in the country is used in the Northeast and 90 percent of that is delivered by barge,” he said.

Valdez says he has a crew of 20 who spend weeks at time away from their homes to make sure we stay warm all winter.

"My crew has been working very hard each day, long days especially with this cold winter so they're the best crew I could ever ask for and I'm truly grateful."

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