Delivered earlier this year by the Blount Boats shipyard in Warren, R.I., an icebreaking buoy tender ordered in July 2020, the M/V Eddie Somers, is now in service with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Homeported at Somers Cove Marina port at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Md., the 94 x 27 foot vessel will replace the M/V J. Milliard Tawes after nearly 50 years’ service.
There is a better description of the vessel in a 2020 post reporting the construction contract award.
I found this particularly interesting,
Under a cooperative agreement with Virginia and the U.S. Coast Guard, the M/V Somers will also provide this service to Tangier Island in Virginia when requested. During heavy ice seasons, all food, fuel, medicine, and emergency transport going to and from the islands are supplied by the vessel.
Frequently there is talk of the Coast Guard shedding missions. Domestic icebreaking is perhaps one of those that might be considered. Here is a state taking responsibility for at least some elements of domestic icebreaking and at least shallow water buoy tending. Domestic icebreaking might be seen as a Federal subsidy for areas that experience icing.
The Coast Guard, as the agent of domestic icebreaking, makes the most sense when it can be done by vessels that have other missions when icebreaking is not required. Federal funding of domestic icebreaking makes the most sense when it facilitates interstate and international commerce. Like this particular vessel, Coast Guard vessels frequently combine both domestic icebreaking and buoytending capabilities as in the 225 foot buoy tenders and USCGC Mackinaw.
Looking at this vessel, it looks a lot like our proposed Waterways Commerce Cutters. Makes me wonder if an icebreaking capability for at least some of them might be a good idea, if that is not already in the plan?
Thanks to a reader for bringing this to my attention.
Didn’t the CG have a 65 harbor tug in Crisfield at one time? I am really curious about the power plant in this vessel. Continuous operations in 1.5′ of ice and ram to 3′ requires quite a bit of HP. Buckthorn in Sault Ste. Marie is comparable in size to this vessel. She has about 750HP and they never even think about moving in ice (of course the hull isn’t ABS ice Rated). I haven’t seen any mention of making any of the Waterway Cutters with an ice mission. If this can really break that much ice it would be a fine replacement for the 65′ tugs which are long past replacement age.
Fun fact: M/V J. Milliard Tawes is USCGC BARBERRY (WAGL/WLI 294). “BARBERRY” is still beautifully welded on the stern and can be read clear as day.
With a 1942 commissioning, she is now 79yrs old!