USCG Icebreakers Free Ships as Lake Erie Freezes

US Coast Guard (USCG) cutters Neah Bay and Morro Bay, 140-foot bay class ice-breaking tugs home-ported in Cleveland, freed multiple vessels beset by ice in western Lake Erie and the St. Clair River, on January 3 and 4.

As informed, the cold temperatures over Lake Erie caused ice to form rapidly over the lake leading to the bulk carriers John J. Boland, Hon Paul J. Martin, Indiana Harbor and James R. Barker to become stuck in ice.

USCG cutters stationed on the Great Lakes support the service’s domestic ice-breaking mission through annual operations Taconite and Coal Shovel.

Commerce across Lake Erie is kept moving by US and Canadian Coast Guard cutters providing ice-breaking assistance in support of operation Coal Shovel. The operation also supports waterways in southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair/Detroit River system, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and as a result, the fastest to freeze. Currently, ice coverage on Lake Erie is over 20%, well above the seasonal norm of 5% for this time of year. Weather reports indicate that Lake Erie will build up more ice over the next week.

“With the shipping season set to end on January 15, 2018, Coast Guard cutters will continue to break ice to ensure that waterways stay navigable for cargo ships on the Great Lakes,” the USCG said. 

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