Coast Guard leaders recommit to partnership in binational icebreaking in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway

Julie Gascon, Assistant Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard Central and Arctic Region, and Rear Adm. Joanna Nunan, Commander of the United States Coast Guard 9th District, sign a renewed Memorandum of Understanding on icebreaking services for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway January 18.

Julie Gascon, Assistant Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard’s Central and Arctic Region, was joined by Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District, to sign the updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their agencies for icebreaking services in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway maritime transportation system.

The renewed MOU strengthens the mutual commitment for ensuring vital icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes region, including the main connecting navigable waterways, Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River from Tibbetts Point, New York to as far east as Cornwall, Ontario.

“With our partners at the U.S. Coast Guard we are truly one team supporting the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships in the heart of North America,” said Gascon. “Our updated Memorandum of Understanding allows us to better share information, equipment and personnel between countries. By working together we ensure scheduled vessel traffic can move through the shipping channels and into and out of community harbors.”

“Our partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard is crucial for our mutual success on the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways,” said Nunan. “As the beginning of this winter’s severe conditions have demonstrated, we need to work together to provide seamless service to our communities and keep commerce flowing.”

The icebreaking MOU authorizes the exchange of personnel on Coast Guard icebreakers. Temporary exchanges, when conditions allow, will enhance familiarity with each other’s procedures when cooperating in shared waters, often on joint missions.

The truly binational nature of icebreaking duties is evident through recent missions on the Great Lakes. CCGS Griffon cleared shipping routes to Erie, Pennsylvania and to Conneaut and Toledo, Ohio this month. Meanwhile, USCGC Alder worked on icebreaking in Thunder Bay, Ontario and USCGC Morro Bay assisted ships to Port Colborne and Nanticoke, Ontario.

In a concentrated effort, CCGS Samuel Risley joined forces with USCG cutters Neah Bay, Bristol Bay and Morro Bay to break up ice jams that posed a high risk of flooding for communities on the St. Clair River, particularly at East China Township, Michigan and St. Clair Township, Ontario.

Maritime Editorial