Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie commenced Operation Taconite to prevent newly formed ice from hampering commercial shipping across the western Great Lakes.
Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BISCAYNE BAY was assigned to manage the ice breaking needs of
western Lake Superior, specifically the twin ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wisc. Tomorrow, U.S.
Coast Guard Cutter MOBILE BAY joins the operation, initially to work the ice in southern Green Bay before making their way to the St. Marys River. As ice coverage expands, Coast Guard officials will assign additional assets.
Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic ice-breaking operation. The operation encompasses Lake Superior, St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, and all of Lake Michigan. 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 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 Lakes, St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac. These measures may include restricting tanker transits to daylight in the presence of ice, reducing speeds by 2 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
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