Maine-based Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay arrives in Detroit

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND ― The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug normally homeported in Rockland, Maine, is scheduled to arrive in Detroit and moor near Cobo Hall on Friday in support of the Coast Guard’s 2011-12 domestic ice breaking mission and a security zone for the 24th Annual North American Auto Show.

The cutter Thunder Bay’s crew has been temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes during the 2011-12 ice breaking season, augmenting the 9th Coast Guard District’s ice breaking fleet as part of the largest domestic ice breaking operations in the country.

“This has been an adventure since leaving Rockland in late November,” said Lt. Jerry Smith, commanding officer of cutter Thunder Bay. “We arrived in out temporary homeport of Cleveland after traveling 1,700 nautical miles. The trip took 14 days and was quite a journey. Once we started operating we learned that the Great Lakes are unique and special. This deployment is something the crew will remember for their entire careers.”

The cutter Thunder Bay will be available for free tours on Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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

Serving as leading seaman in cutter Thunder Bay’s Deck Department, in charge of six of the junior-most crewmembers onboard the cutter Thunder Bay, is Seaman Phillip Lake, a Michigan native. Recently recognized as cutter Thunder Bay’s Sailor of the Quarter, Lake is responsible for the handling of lines during mooring evolutions and performs the duties of helmsman and quartermaster of the watch, assisting the officer of the deck while the ship is nderway. Lake is a 2004 graduate of Salem High School in Canton, Mich., and his fiancé, Jenna, is also from Michigan.

“I grew up boating all the time out of Humbug Marina, so it’s been really cool to go through those same waters on a Coast Guard Cutter,” said Lake. “Although, the best part about being here in the Great Lakes is getting to come home and see my fiancé.”

Lake is awaiting orders to Boatswains Mate “A” School, in Yorktown, Va.

Crewmembers aboard cutter Thunder Bay recently spent time breaking ice in the St. Marys River as part of Operation Taconite, under the direction of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. They will now switch their primary area of responsibility to waterways near Detroit as part of Operation Coal Shovel, under direction of Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

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