Coast Guard cutter ships travel Hudson River to break up ice chunks

US Coast Guard leaving Port of Albany.jpg

ALBANY, NY (WRGB) - Thursday morning, the Coast Guard sent an ice-cutting ship out on the Hudson River from the Port of Albany.

The Sturgeon Bay cutter left the Port of Albany shortly after 8:00 am. The crew plans to drive down to Kingston, and possibly head back to Albany at the end of the day.

Their goal is to break up the ice, and create travel lanes so barges can easily travel the river. That ensures people have the supplies, energy, and emergency resources they need during the winter.

"About 85% of the heating oil in the U.S. that's consumed is consumed in the Northeast, and 90% of that comes into various ports in the Northeast by barge." Lt. John Forster said. "By being up here on the Hudson River we're able to open up a lot of those ports and allow that commerce to continue to travel."

The ship uses a compressor that shoots bubbles out from under the ship, to help break up the thick chunks of ice around the ship.

The crew says the ice is usually 6-12 inches thick along the Hudson, but in some spots they've seen ice up to 18 inches.

Crew members say this year is unusual because it got extremely cold so early season. They say their usual prime season for ice cutting is January and February. Sometimes, they don't see this much ice at all.

"For the last two winters the river's been pretty clear of ice , but this year started off on the colder side. We have quite a bit of work to do this year." Lt. Forster said.

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