U.S. Coast Guard begins icebreaking in western Great Lakes

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie has commenced Operation Taconite, the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation in response to expanded ice growth in the commercial ports of Western Lake Superior and the St. Marys River.

Operation Taconite encompasses Lake Superior, St. Marys River, Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, northern Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Icebreaking operations are based on the following order of priorities: search and rescue, urgent response to vessels in deteriorating weather conditions, exigent community services for flood control and remote communities in immediate need of food, fuel for heat, energy and/or medical assistance, and facilitation of navigation.

In the coming weeks, various commercial waterways may close after due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment and the safety of island residents who, in the course of their daily business, use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

Andrea Lee