EUPTA, U.S. Coast Guard partner to improve winter ferry service in Upper Michigan
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and Eastern Upper Peninsula Transit Authority (EUPTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) July 13 with a unified goal of improving ferry service during the winter to the St. Marys River’s three island communities in Upper Michigan.
Captain Marko Broz, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, and Pete Paramski, Director of the EUPTA, signed the MOU aboard the passenger ferry Sugar Islander.
Occasionally, ice obstructing the St. Marys River halts or delays ferry service to Drummond, Neebish and Sugar Islands. The MOU lays out the responsibilities of the Coast Guard for icebreaking support of the three ferries. The agreement also explains the actions to be taken by EUPTA officials should any of the ferries become hindered by ice.
The western Great Lakes experienced 145 days of ice cover during the last winter season. Ten assets assigned to Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie for icebreaking delivered 3,179 hours of icebreaking, representing 888 vessel transits; 386 of those transits required direct icebreaking assistance. These same icebreaking assets put forth an additional 3,588 hours of preventative icebreaking to establish and maintain tracks in the ice-choked waterways of Green Bay, the Straits of Mackinac, the St. Marys River, Georgian Bay and the western Lake Superior Ports of Thunder Bay, Marquette, Duluth and Superior.
On the St. Marys River, ferry service to Neebish Island was hampered by ice for 28 days during the Spring Break Out and service to Sugar Island was delayed by ice a total of 76 hours over the 3,504 hours of winter operations. Overall, Sugar Island ferry service availability was 98 percent.