Maine-based Coast Guard Cutter arrives in Great Lakes for 2011/2012 ice breaking season

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — The Maine-based Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay arrived at its temporary homeport at the Cleveland Moorings Monday, to assist in the service’s ice breaking mission in the Great Lakes throughout the winter months.

While in the region, the crew of the Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug from Rockland, Maine, will assist other Coast Guard icebreakers during Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, the largest domestic ice breaking operations in the country.

The Coast Guard conducts domestic ice breaking to aid in search and rescue and other emergency operations, to mitigate flooding, and to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.

Ice breaking on the Great Lakes is vital to keeping shipping lanes open. Large quantities of steel, coal, heating oil and grain ships throughout the region, and Coast Guard ice breaking services enable these shippers to transport an average of $2 billion worth of cargo each year.

Coast Guard cutters from the northeastern U.S. have successfully assisted with ice breaking in the Great Lakes for the past three winters – the cutters Morro Bay, homeported in New London, Conn., during the 2010-2011 winter; Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., during the 2009-2010 winter; and Thunder Bay during the winter of 2008-2009.

While the crew of the Thunder Bay is deployed to the Great Lakes, other New England cutter crews will cover the Thunder Bay’s traditional area of responsibility when the need for ice breaking there arises.

The crew of Thunder Bay plans to post regular updates on the cutter’s official Facebook page.

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