12/18/2017: Coast Guard begins icebreaking operations in the western Great Lakes

Editor’s Note: The information in this post originally appeared in a news release issued by the Coast Guard’s 9th District, located in Cleveland, Ohio. View the original news release in the digital newsroom.

The Coast Guard commenced Operation Taconite Dec. 15, 2017, in response to expanded ice growth in the commercial ports of western Lake Superior and the lower St. Marys River. Before ice impedes commercial navigation, icebreakers were assigned to each region.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation. The operation encompasses Lake Superior, St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, and Lake Michigan. In the coming weeks, various commercial waterways may close after due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, the need for cross-channel traffic (e.g. ferries) and the safety of the island residents; who, in the course of their daily business, traditionally use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

The implementation of Operation Taconite places additional movement criteria on commercial ships plying the western Great Lakes, St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac. These measures include restricting tanker transits to daylight in the presence of ice, reducing speeds by two miles per hour in specified locations to reduce incidental ice breaking, and requiring additional voice and position reporting points throughout the operation’s area of responsibility. The Coast Guard recommends all recreational ice users plan their activities carefully, dress appropriately, use caution on the ice and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of regional waterway closures.

For more information, contact Mark Gill via email, or contact Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River at (906) 635-3232.

Photo of CGC Mackinaw breaking ice.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot heavy icebreaker, breaks ice near Marine City, Mich., along the St. Clair River, Jan. 28, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Daniel R. Michelson)

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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