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Two tugboats on order to break up ice jams on Niagara River

Two new tugboats are on order to help keep winter ice away from power plants on both sides of the border. The tugs will replace older boats in a fleet of four that help with winter operations at the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant and at Ontario’s Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station.

The tugboats install and remove an 8,800-foot-long floating ice boom made of steel pontoons at Lake Erie’s outlet to the Niagara River. The tugs play an essential role in keeping the water intake clear, said Harry Francois, a New York Power Authority regional manager, in a press release this week.

“So we look forward to christening the new boats, which are highly visible symbols of the power generating process,” he said in the statement.

Each winter the authority works with Ontario Power Generation to keep ice from flooding shoreline property and getting in the way of power production.

Great Lakes Shipyard of Cleveland won the $4.9 million contract to build the boats. One named the Daniel Jocaire II is scheduled for delivery in 2015, the other, the Breaker II, should arrive in 2017.

The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees approved the contract at their meeting this month after enlisting the Bristol Harbor Group of Rhode Island to design the new boats.

The decision to replace the older boats followed a study evaluating the condition of the 30-year-old Daniel Joncaire and the 50-year-old Breaker.