Cuomo welcomes new ice breaker to Niagara

The New York Power Authority’s newest ice breaker “Breaker II” on its way to Western New York in late August.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has welcomed a new ice breaking tugboat designated to work in the Niagara River to help alleviate shoreline flooding and reduce the likelihood of ice limiting the power production at large hydro plants along the Niagara River.

“Breaker II” joins a fleet of three boats that work every winter to install the Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom — a series of 22 spans of steel pontoons that straddle the mouth of the Niagara River and work to prevent large ice formations from traveling up river. 

“The Breaker II tugboat will play a vital role in generating power and mitigating the impacts of shoreline flooding along the Niagara River,” Cuomo said in a release. “In just a few short months, this boat will help install the region’s iconic ice boom, which will help prevent large ice flows from inhibiting the generation of clean hydro electricity to power our state, and limit ice build-ups that can cause shoreline flooding.” 

“It’s been a tough couple of years for our waterfront communities with flooding last year and the impact of COVID-19 this year,” added Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “We are committed to finding smart solutions to help mitigate flooding and help our shoreline communities build back better. The new Breaker II tugboat will be used for ice-cutting operations in the Niagara River to keep the river free from ice and prevent ice jams and flooding. This is part of our overall efforts to prepare for future high-water events and help to ensure our communities have the resources they need to be more resilient and sustainable in the future.” 

The Breaker II was custom designed for the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for the unique role that it will play in controlling ice buildup in the Niagara River.

In August, the boat traveled from the shipyard where it was custom built in Rhode Island, through the New York State Canal System and recently arrived at its permanent Buffalo home.

Said John R. Koelmel, NYPA chairman, “As a lifelong resident of the Buffalo-Niagara region, I take great pride in knowing that the ice boom is being installed each year by the Power Authority and our international partners across the River. It’s a privilege to be here at the very beginning of this boat’s career as the new chief ice boom installer and ice breaker. Indeed, the Breaker II has important work before her, to keep the river flowing so that NYPA can facilitate clean power production. This little boat has a big job and we, at NYPA, are very pleased to have her join our fleet.”

The Breaker II was designed by the Bristol Harbor Group, Inc. of Bristol, Rhode Island and fabricated by Blount Boats of Warren Rhode Island. The cost of the vessel is shared by NYPA and its Ontario counterpart.

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