Ports and Facilities

Icebreaking operations begin in Great Lakes

Sector Sault Sainte Marie in the Coast Guard’s 9th District announced the commencement of Operation Taconite, Wednesday, in response to expanded ice growth in the commercial ports of western Lake Superior.

As one of two ice breaking operations that support the Great Lakes, Operation Taconite encompasses Lake Superior, St. Marys River, Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, northern Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan.

Ice breaking operations are based on the following order of priorities: search and rescue and homeland security; urgent response to vessels; exigent community services, which includes ice breaking for flood control and to assist icebound communities in immediate need of food, fuel for heat or energy, and 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.

The authority for Coast Guard domestic ice breaking was created in 1936, by Executive Order 7521 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt directing the U.S. Coast Guard to “assist in keeping open to navigation by means of ice breaking operations in so far as practicable, and as the exigencies may require, channels and harbors in accordance with the reasonable demands of commerce.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug, escorts the motor vessel Calumet through Lake Michigan near Lansing Shoal, Feb. 3, 2014. The cutter was operating as part of Operation Taconite, which is the ice breaking operation for the northern Great Lakes. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Daniel R. Michelson)

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.