The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bollard was out on the Connecticut River Wednesday, breaking through thick sheets of ice covering the river.
Bollard is one of 11 cutters working in the northeast for Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters, or OP RENEW. The cutter clears a channel for traffic and works to prevent ice dams from building up and causing flooding.
"The ship has a haul design that helps it to ride up onto the ice," explained Coast Guard Officer Christopher Connolly. “And it is the weight of the ship combined with the propulsion moving forward that breaks the ice down.”
The Bollard, a 65-foot tugboat, has been breaking ice on the Connecticut River for the last 50 years.
This year, the conditions are mild compared to previous years. In 2018, two additional cutters had to come to Connecticut to help because there was so much ice.
The ice on the CT River right now is about 4-6 inches thick.
“It has been deteriorating with the rain and the temperatures we have had in the last few days," said Connolly.
The eight person crew will continue to break ice this year for as long as the conditions call for their work. The Bollard is usually breaking ice through March.