The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

irrepassable gate

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awhile back, I posted this series of shots to Flickr, and an enigmatic shipping enthusiast from the vast interweb hive mind immediately commented “140′ Bay Class Icebreaking Tug USCGC PENOBSCOT BAY WTGB-107 homeport Bayonne, NJ.”.

From wikipedia

The USCG Bay-class icebreaking tug is a class of 140-foot (43 m) icebreaking tugs of the United States Coast Guard, with hull numbers WTGB 101 through to WTGB 109.

They can proceed through fresh water ice up to 20 inches (51 cm) thick, and break ice up to 3 feet (0.91 m) thick, through ramming. These vessels are equipped with a system to lubricate their progress through the ice, by bubbling air through the hull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When focusing in on this ship, I just thought it looked cool. Turns out that this class of vessels has a long and storied past.

Here’s a Coast guard shot of Penobscot Bay in action during the winter…

Here’s the official story, courtesy United States Coast Guard:


The 140-foot Bay-class Cutters are state of the art icebreakers used primarily for domestic ice breaking duties. They are named after American Bays and are stationed mainly in Northeast U.S. and Great Lakes.

WTGBs use a low-pressure-air hull lubrication or bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and ice. This system improves icebreaking capabilities by reducing resistance against the hull, reducing horsepower requirements

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Note: I should mention that members of the USCG have offered me very good, yet unofficial, advice on appropriate maritime footwear in the past- which may render some personal bias on my part for the organization.

The USCG also maintains a short history page on this ship, which can be accessed here.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 5, 2011 at 2:12 am

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