Line Handlers Assist USCG Icebreakers in Frigid Conditions

Friday, March 14, 2014

Auxiliarists Rich Gabriels and Jim Wilson on dockside awaiting maneuvers by USCGC Penobscot Bay. Photo by Charles Poltenson.

Auxiliarists Rich Gabriels and Jim Wilson on dockside awaiting maneuvers by USCGC Penobscot Bay. USCG Auxiliary Photo by Charles Poltenson.

ALBANY, NEW YORK – U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from upstate New York have established an Auxiliary line handling team to assist ice breaking USCG cutters approaching and departing the Port of Albany despite harsh winter weather.

By Auxiliarist Charles Poltenson

The Albany Line Handlers are a small team of five Auxiliarsts who were issued protective flotation coveralls, hardhats, and gloves to provide assistance to Hudson River icebreakers. Due to the height of the dock and the busy activity at the Port, the Team provides an additional layer of safety by assisting in the receiving and securing of lines when an icebreaker arrives.

Line handling activities kicked off with the arrival in December of the USCGC Penobscot Bay (WTGB 107), a 140-foot bay class icebreaker can break up to 30 inches of  ice continuously and up to 4 feet by backing and ramming.  The team swiftly assisted the Cutter in docking at the Port of Albany. Since then the CGC Penobscot Bay has continually used the line handling team. The dedicated members store their protective gear in their cars and respond directly from their day jobs whenever they are needed.

The team consists of Auxiliary leader Richard Gabriels and line handlers Charles Poltenson, Scott Kuhne, Terry Tremblay, and Jim Wilson. Having a line handling team ready was based on existing efforts by Line Handlers in Rhinecliff and Kingston, NY under the guidance of Auxiliarist Curt Fleck.


The USCGC Penobscot Bay prepares to depart from Albany. Photo by Charles Poltenson.

The USCGC Penobscot Bay prepares to depart from Albany. USCG Auxiliary Photo by Charles Poltenson.

The Cutter crews appreciate the team’s work especially with recent bitter temperatures and the team is ready for challenges. According to line handler Charles Poltenson, “We’ve been down there in pre-dawn darkness, after dark, in warmth and sub-arctic temperatures. But we’re proud to do it. We ARE Team Coast Guard.”

This article was originally published in the Winter release of Auxiliary Flotilla 15-4’s newsletter, In the Wake Of The Half Moon and Division 14’s newsletter, Boat Basin.


Tags: , , ,



  1. Bob Miller says:

    Nice article, Charlie! But you forgot the West Point team!

    • Charles Poltenson says:

      My apologies. The focus was primarily on what we do up here and it started from an article in my Flotilla newsletter. As far as teams down your way I was working from an e-mail that listed the teams. I understand West Point can be a challenge….so sorry I left you out.

  2. Ed Keyrouze says:

    GREAT JOB GUYS!! It is great to see you get republished & recognition for your dedication! You are the tue essence of TEAM COAST GUARD! i am proud to be associated with all of you…………

Leave a Comment

We welcome your comments on postings at all Coast Guard sites/journals. These are sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard to provide a forum to talk about our work providing maritime safety, security and stewardship for the American people to secure the homeland, save lives and property, protect the environment, and promote economic prosperity.

The information provided is for public information only and is not a distress communication channel. People in an emergency and in need of Coast Guard assistance should use VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), dial 911, or call their nearest Coast Guard unit.

All comments submitted are moderated. The Coast Guard retains the discretion to determine which comments it will post and which it will not. We expect all contributors to be respectful. We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind; refer to Coast Guard or other employees by name; contain offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups, or contain vulgar language. We will also not post comments that are spam, are clearly off topic, or that promote services or products.

The U.S. Coast Guard disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from any comments posted on this page. This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

If you have specific questions regarding a U.S. Coast Guard program that involves details you do not wish to share publicly please contact the program point of contact listed at

The U.S. Coast Guard will not collect or retain Personally Identifiable Information unless you voluntarily provide it to us. To view the U.S. Coast Guards Privacy Policy, please visit:

Please note: Anonymous comments have been disabled for this journal. It is preferred that you use your real name when posting a comment. WE WILL POST THE NAME YOU ENTER WHEN YOU SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT. Also, you are welcome to use Open ID or other user technologies that may be available.