BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As the region thaws from recent snow and ice storms, one Coast Guard cutter still deals with frigid temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the vessel’s mission to break the ice keeps our economy moving.

From the moment Coast Guard petty officers step on board this vessel, there’s only one mission–go break some ice!

On board the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Chock, Chief Tracy Randall is in charge, the first woman to command this vessel.

Leaving the shore, the Chock glides easily in the frigid Chesapeake, but in deeper waters, the crew finds what it’s looking for–a floor of ice.

“Historically, this is one of the colder winters for the Chesapeake Bay and especially for ice,” said Jeff Ritter.

It’s so thick, cargo ships became stuck, jamming up products headed to market.

“Our job is to clear the path,” said Ritter. “It’s Chock’s mission to ensure that they get safely where they’re going.”

Chock’s reinforced hull allows her to slice through as much as 18 inches of ice. That’s why she’s called the “Bull of the Chesapeake,” but sometimes a second try is needed.

“We put our rudder in midship, we back up, we get to a certain distance and then full speed ahead and we push right through,” Randall said.

In the last five days, the Chock rescued at least five tug boats, even needing some help getting out of this ice itself.

“Yesterday in particular, there were four or five tugs and barges that were stuck. We helped assist to get them out,” Randall said.

Freeing the Chock up to complete her ice-breaking mission.

The Coast Guard’s cutter spent nearly 100 hours on its ice recon mission this week alone.

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