Coast Guard prepares for 2009-2010 icebreaking season

CLEVELAND – The Ninth Coast Guard District is preparing for the 2009-2010 icebreaking season in the Great Lakes.

Coast Guard icebreaking operations are designed to facilitate the movement of commercial vessels to meet the reasonable demands of commerce on the Great Lakes and to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with flood mitigation.

The Coast Guard conducts two major operations: Taconite and Coal Shovel. These operations ensure the most efficient movement of vessels through the entire Great Lakes region.

Operation Taconite, under the control of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron.

Coal Shovel, under the control of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, and includes the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Based on ice conditions, assets are dedicated to specific areas in coordination with our international partners and commercial icebreaking services.

To ensure the highest state of readiness and the Coast Guard’s ability to complete this critical mission, an additional icebreaker from the First Coast Guard District, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., will be temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes region. Penobscot Bay will augment the other eight Coast Guard icebreakers that call the Great Lakes home.

Penobscot Bay is scheduled to arrive, here, on December 22.

“We are taking all steps necessary to ensure we are ready to provide the best level of service and keep the fleet moving through the ice”, said Cmdr. Kevin Dunn, Chief of Waterways Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District. “We are ready to respond to emergencies and provide assistance to those who may be effected by ice or flooding.”

The Coast Guard encourages waterway users to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Owners of facilities on the ice should move them safely onshore or sufficiently away from the commercial channels. The Coast Guard strongly advises pedestrians, fishers and snowmobilers to leave the ice when they see the icebreaker in the immediate vicinity. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of waterway closures.

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.