Coast Guard ends Operation Coal Shovel, Taconite continues

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, homeported in Detroit, assists the vessel James R. Barker at Rock Cut in the St. Marys River April 2. Bristol Bay works the river to keep the waterway open. Source: U.S. Coast Guard 

The U.S. Coast Guard ended Operation Coal Shovel April 9.

Coal Shovel encompasses icebreaking in southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair/Detroit River system, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers work together to break ice in these waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter.

Operation Taconite continues.

Taconite is the largest domestic icebreaking operation in the U.S. Taconite is primarily responsible for ensuring the successful transport of cargo amid the harsh winter conditions of the northern Great Lakes.

The Coast Guard provides icebreaking assistance in U.S. waters where commercial icebreaking resources are either unavailable or incapable of handling the difficult ice conditions. Under the Canada/U.S. agreement, Taconite may also provide icebreaking in Canadian waters, such as Georgian Bay or the Port of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Critical waterways in Taconite’s area of responsibility include the Straits of Mackinac, Whitefish Bay and the St. Marys River. Extreme weather conditions, narrow channels, relatively shallow waters, the Soo Locks and the large number of vessels transiting the St. Marys River make it a particularly challenging icebreaking environment.

More information on Great Lakes domestic icebreaking operations can be found here and in the 9th District Great Lakes newsroom.

Maritime Editorial