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U.S. Coast Guard wraps up icebreaking work on Great Lakes

Great Lakes ice cover peaked on Feb. 4 at 23.35 per cent
2018-01-13USCGC Mackinaw-02
The motor vessel Burns Harbor pushes ahead through the ice in Whitefish Bay on Jan. 12, 2018, in this file photo (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Sean Murphy)

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The U.S. Coast Guard says its icebreaking operations on local waterways are now "on ice" until next season.

Commander, Coast Guard Sector Northern Great Lakes concluded its domestic icebreaking operation, also known as Operation TACONITE, on March 26, the Coast Guard said in a release.

The Great Lakes ice cover peaked on Feb. 4 at 23.35 per cent, according to the Coast Guard; however, total Great Lakes ice coverage as of March 22 was .87 per cent.

In the 76 days of the domestic icebreaking season, six U.S. icebreakers combined to deliver nearly 720 hours of icebreaking assistance to the benefit of 52 vessel transits.

A total of 18 of these movements required direct icebreaking assistance to ensure commercial vessel safety.

"The icebreakers also conducted icebreaking operations to establish and maintain tracks in the ice-hampered waterways of western Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, Green Bay, and the Straits of Mackinac," the release notes.

The Coast Guard said it is estimated more than half a million tons of dry bulk and 20 million gallons of liquid cargoes were assisted during the 76-day period.

This translates to roughly US$67 million in cargo "critical to power generation, industrial productivity, and public safety."

— SooToday