Cutter Mackinaw Opens Southern Lake Michigan Ports

Portage, Ind. – For only the second time in nearly 30 years, the Coast Guard has been requested to conduct domestic icebreaking operations in Southern Lake Michigan in support of the tug/barge industry.

The last federal icebreaker operating in these ports was the Cutter Mobile Bay who conducted escort duty in March of 2003.

On February 21, USCGC Mackinaw, the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaker, arrived offshore of the Calumet Breakwater Light and began track maintenance and flushing operations that allowed tug/barge movements to resume between the critical southern Lake Michigan ports of Calumet Harbor, Indiana Harbor, Gary and Burns Harbor.

Encountering a range of ice conditions from 2-3 feet of refrozen brash under pressure to windrows up to 8 feet thick, Mackinaw’s efforts through the congested ports loosened and flushed enough ice to get 20 tug/barges carrying coal, coke and steel moving again.

Mackinaw is currently conducting maintenance here while awaiting offshore gale force winds to subside and is expected to resume icebreaking operations early next week to again facilitate tug/barge transits.

USCGC Mackinaw enters the port of Gary, Indiana to break ice that closed it to tug and barge traffic.

USCGC Mackinaw enters the port of Gary, Indiana to break the ice that closed it to tug/barge traffic. Photo taken by Benjamin Morgan, USCG.

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