Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Domestic Icebreaking Operations—Part 2

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by LT Benjamin Morgan, mobility and ice operations, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Maritime Transportation Systems.

On the Great Lakes
Throughout the Great Lakes region and the St. Lawrence Seaway, icebreaking activities are organized into two task groups:

  • Operation Taconite encompasses the waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, the St. Mary’s River system, the Straits of Mackinac, and northern Lake Huron. Icebreaking efforts in this region are coordinated from the vessel traffic service at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste Marie, Mich.
  • Operation Coal Shovel is responsible for Lake Erie, the Detroit River, lower Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair River. This operation is jointly managed by U.S. and Canadian forces via USCG Sector Detroit and the Regional Ice Operations Center in Sarnia, Canada.
The Way Ahead
The Coast Guard’s domestic icebreaking mission is at a critical juncture, as many icebreaking assets—specifically the 140- and 65-foot icebreaking tugs—are at or past their designed service life. Additionally, performance analysts are investigating icebreaking resource allocations to ensure that cutters are placed in a position that best meets the needs of our diverse customers.

Another vital component of the continued success of the domestic icebreaking program is sustaining professional relationships with commercial industry stakeholders, such as the Lake Carriers Association, tug/tow operators, commercial fishing fleets, ferry services, and the businesses that rely on year-round maritime transportation.

Close cooperation with commercial icebreaking companies is also important, as there are many demands for icebreaking assistance on the Great Lakes that the Coast Guard simply cannot meet.

Full article is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/spring2011/.

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