Crew of good Samaritan tug assists commercial tug, barge escape ice floes

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — A Coast Guard crew and the crew of a good Samaritan tug helped a commercial tug break free from between two ice floes 20 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge in the vicinity of White Shoal Light in Lake Michigan early Friday morning.

The tug Undaunted was pushing the unloaded barge Pere Marquette 41 at the time of the incident.

At about 4:10 a.m., a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie was contacted by the crew of the Undaunted, which reported that they were stuck in between ice floes. The crewmember reported the vessel was drifting towards White Shoal Light and estimated that they would run aground within 2 hours.

The SAR controller immediately responded by issuing an urgent marine information broadcast, which is a broadcast that asks any boaters or other agencies in the vicinity to assist if able.

At about 4:30 a.m., the crew of the tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort, responded to the UMIB and proceeded to assist the Undaunted.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., was also directed to aid the Undaunted. The Mackinaw was in the lower St. Marys River near Munuscong Lake at the time.

The Undaunted reported to the Coast Guard that it had broken free from the ice floe at about 6 a.m.

The Undaunted rendezvoused with the Mackinaw at about 9:30 a.m., and the icebreaker escorted the tug and barge to Ludington, Mich.

“Although we always appreciate when nearby mariners render assistance to others in need, it’s very important that they don’t place themselves in harm’s way in the process,” said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “Before assisting, mariners should always consider the risks and the limitations of their vessels and contact the Coast Guard, so we can ensure a coordinated the response. We don’t want one vessel in distress to become two.”

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