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Maryland Icebreaking Fleet Readies for Winter

Newest Vessel in Service Gets National Recognition

Photo of large boat in a marina slip

The M/V Eddie Somers seen shortly after its arrival at Somers Cove Marina, its home base, in May 2022. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is ready to clear paths on Maryland’s waterways this winter with icebreaking boats stationed around the Chesapeake Bay.

DNR’s Hydrographic Operations team, based on the Eastern Shore, has four large boats that perform various duties throughout the Chesapeake Bay, including driving through ice sheets on the water’s surface to allow navigation. The department’s boats are shallow draft, meaning they can get into rivers and shallow areas of the Bay.

The newest boat in DNR’s fleet, the M/V Eddie Somers, was christened in March and commissioned into service by Governor Larry Hogan in a September 2022 ceremony, and is serving the Crisfield-Smith Island area. The boat is named after former DNR Capt. Eddie Somers, who retired in 2018 after 25 years as captain of the M/V J. Millard Tawes, the boat the new vessel replaced.

The M/V Somers was recently recognized by the noted trade publication “WorkBoat” as one of the 10 significant new vessels in the United States.

Photo of ice on the water from the back of a boat

The M/V Sandusky clears ice at Kent Narrows during a previous winter. Maryland DNR photo.

The DNR icebreaking boats include:

M/V Eddie Somers, a 94-foot buoy tender that is the primary icebreaking asset for Crisfield Harbor and Smith Island, serving as a lifeline to islanders by clearing a path for supply and shuttle boats. It also assists the U.S. Coast Guard as requested with emergency deliveries to other areas of the lower Eastern Shore, including Tangier Island in Virginia.

M/V J.C. Widener, a 73-foot buoy tender that serves Annapolis Harbor, Back Creek, and portions of Spa Creek and Magothy, Severn, South, and West rivers.

M/V A.V. Sandusky, an 80-foot buoy serving Kent Narrows, Eastern Bay, Tilghman Creek, Rock Hall and portions of the Chester and Miles rivers.

M/V H.J. Elser, a 50-foot utility vessel with icebreaking capability serving Knapps Narrows on Tilghman Island; and portions of the Choptank and Tred Avon rivers, Broad Creek, Town Creek, Easton Point Landing, Cambridge Creek/Harbor, the Little Choptank River, Slaughter Creek, Chapel Cove, and Madison Bay.

Requests for service should be directed to John Gallagher of Hydrographic Operations at: 410-643-6521 or by email to john.gallagher1@maryland.gov. Information will be forwarded to the individual captains.

DNR advises that prior to freezing conditions, commercial vessel operators move their vessels to areas near the icebreakers or Natural Resources Police patrol boat stations.


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