Cutter Penobscot Bay to depart Great Lakes after assisting with Great Lakes ice breaking

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay is scheduled to depart here after spending the winter breaking ice on the Great Lakes. Capt. Lorne Thomas, Chief of Staff of the Ninth Coast Guard District, will oversee a brief recognition ceremony, Friday, at 10 a.m.

The 140-foot ice breaking cutter, whose original homeport is Bayonne, N.J., was temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes Region to augment the eight other Great Lakes-based ice breaking cutters with Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, the Coast Guard’s two major ice breaking operations here.

“Their presence (in the Great Lakes) ensured the Coast Guard provided the best level of service and kept commerce moving during the winter season,” said Cmdr. Kevin Dunn, Chief of Waterways Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District.

Penobscot Bay began Great Lakes operations on Jan. 2, 2010. The cutter participated in operations that cleared paths for more than 25 commercial freighters, and solely facilitated the safe navigation of 12 vessels. They spent more than 200 hours breaking Great Lakes ice, including more than 70 hours of preventative ice breaking to keep tracks and channels open for navigation. Overall, their efforts facilitated the safe transit of nearly one million tons of cargo valued at more than $100 million.

Additionally, Penobscot Bay responded to requests from Vermilion and Fairport Harbor, Ohio, to break ice out of the mouths of the Vermilion and Grand Rivers, respectively, to reduce the risk of flooding. In total, they dedicated 52 hours to flood relief operations.

“Having the Penobscot Bay in the Great Lakes was invaluable,” said Capt. Thomas. “It eliminated the need for us to move cutters assigned to Taconite down to Lakes Erie and Ontario.”

During the two-month deployment, Penobscot Bay conducted operations in all five Great Lakes, traveling approximately 2,468 nautical miles.

The Penobscot Bay will return to their original homeport this weekend.

Operation Coal Shovel encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems and Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway; while Operation Taconite encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron. Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite are based on the statutory authorities of 14 USC 2, 14 USC 88 and 14 USC 141. Both direct ice breaking resources to the highest priority areas and missions based on the most current ice conditions.

Flood and storm damage reduction is a mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast Guard provides support to USACE when requested and when a cutter is available. The 1917 Flood Control Act authorized USACE to have a significant federal role in flood control activities nationwide. Today, the USACE is responsible for all projects containing Federal flood control storage and is responsible for flood and storm damage reduction projects which are joint ventures between the Federal government and non-Federal sponsors.

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