The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Icebreakers assigned to keep Lake Superior ports open


December 16, 2017

Associated Press

THE COAST Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot heavy icebreaker, breaks ice near Marine City, along the St. Clair River in January of 2015. The cutter was operating as part of Operation Taconite, which is the ice-breaking operation for the northern Great Lakes. The U.S. Coast Guard photo was taken by Daniel R. Michelson.

SAULT STE. MARIE - The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie began Operation Taconite Friday in response to expanded ice in the commercial ports of western Lake Superior and the lower St. Mary's River.

Icebreakers were assigned to each region.

On Friday, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder was assigned to ice-breaking needs of western Lake Superior, specifically the twin ports of Duluth and Superior, as well as the Port of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

USCGC Biscayne was assigned to the St. Mary's River. In the coming days as ice growth expands on the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard said additional ice-breakers will join the operation.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard's largest icebreaking operation. The operation encompasses Lake Superior, St. Mary's River, Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, and all of Lake Michigan.

In the coming weeks, various commercial waterways may close after consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, the need for cross-channel traffic and safety of the island residents, some of whom use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainlands.

Criteria on commercial ships include restricting tanker transits to daylight in the presence of ice, reducing speeds by 2 miles per hour and voice and position reporting points are required.

The Coast Guard recommends all recreational ice users plan their activities carefully, dress appropriately, use caution on the ice and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the statuses of regional waterway closures.


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