Coast Guard Commences Operation Taconite

CLEVELAND – The Great Lakes Coast Guard fleet has commenced Operation Taconite after ice has caused the significant slowing of traffic in the St. Marys River system and other areas in the Lakes.

Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay, homeport of St. Ignace, Mich., and the Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, homeport of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., will be the focus of the first ice breaking operations, with the immediate concern to break small ice formations in the Duluth-Superior area first.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alder, homeport of Duluth, Minn., is currently removing aids to navigation buoys in the lower St. Marys River with the Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn and replacing them with winter marks.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation, encompassing Lake Superior, St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac. As a result of the operation, the Captain of the Port may close or open channels as ice conditions require. Due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, waterway improvements, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g. ferries), the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

The Coast Guard recommends to those individuals who recreate on ice to plan their activity carefully, 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 status of channel closures.

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