Coast Guard crews are ready this week to start the Northeast icebreaking season, as a cold shot of lower temperatures and wind swept the region.

Freezing conditions are anticipated to affect every Northeast port and waterway, according to officials at the Coast Guard First District headquarters in Boston, who said Monday they were starting up the annual Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters (OpRENEW).

With the New England states and New York heavily reliant on home heating oil – more than 85% of U.S. consumption is in the Northeast — the Coast Guard mounts a regional effort to maintain waterways, where 90% of the fuel supplies are delivered by tanker or barge.

The Thunder Bay, a 140' Bay-class icebreaking tug, in New York Harbor. Coast Guard photo.

The Thunder Bay, a 140' Bay-class icebreaking tug, in New York Harbor. Coast Guard photo.

Along with icebreaking operations, Coast Guard buoy tender crews are replacing aids to navigation with special ice buoys, designed to ride underneath ice and remain on station.

Last weekend two of those crews visited New York City before the onset of the winter season.

The Thunder Bay, a 140’x37’5”x12’6” Bay-class icebreaking tug, was on its way back to homeport at Rockland, Maine, after completing renovations at the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, Md. The Thunder Bay got mechanical and interior upgrades and new paint, all part of service life extension work under the Coast Guard’s In-Service Vessel Sustainment Program (ISVS).

The Juniper, a 225’x46’x13’ seagoing buoy tender and the lead ship of her class, visited the city after maintaining aids to navigation off Long Island, N.Y. She is homeported at Newport, R.I.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.