Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay assists Great Lakes ice breaking

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay assisted the Ninth Coast Guard District, Jan. 11-15, 2010, with one of the busiest ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes.

The Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug homeported in Bayonne, N.J., was one of five U.S. Coast Guard cutters that broke a navigational path through the ice for nearly 20 commercial vessels in the Lake St. Clair River system, which includes Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers.

Along with the cutter Mackinaw, Neah Bay, Bristol Bay and Hollyhock, the Penobscot Bay facilitated the transit of critical supplies, to Great Lakes communities, valued at approximately $80 million.

Penobscot Bay’s is temporarily assigned here to assist with Operation Coal Shovel, an ice-breaking operation that encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway.

“Having the Penobscot Bay here was invaluable; it afforded us the opportunity to not have to move cutters assigned to (Operation) Taconite [an ice breaking operation that encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron] down to Lakes Erie and Ontario,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Donahue, Chief of Aids to Navigation, Domestic Ice Breaking, Ninth Coast Guard District.

Penobscot Bay cleared paths for 13 commercial freighters on Jan 12, 2010. Their day’s efforts facilitated the safe transit of 300,000 tons of cargo valued at approximately $20 million. This includes assisting the 730-foot bulk carrier Algosteel that was beset in 10-15 foot thick brash ice on the St. Clair River, Mich.

The Penobscot Bay arrived at the Coast Guard’s Cleveland Moorings on Dec. 22, 2009, for temporary assignment to the Great Lakes Region to augment the the Ninth District’s eight ice breakers. The cutter last assisted the Ninth District during part of the 2007-2008 ice breaking season.

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