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9th District Great Lakes Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard

News Release

January 03, 2013


Ninth Coast Guard District

Contact: Ninth Coast Guard District External Affairs Office

Email: D9PublicAffairs@gmail.com

Office: (216) 902-6020

Mobile: (216) 310-2608

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards commence Operation Coal Shovel

LAKE ST. CLAIR, Mich. -- The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw and Neah Bay break track lines for a commercial vessels in Lake St. Clair, Jan. 12, 2010. Both cuttters are underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, Detroit/St. Clair River systems, Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Guillermo Colom.

LAKE ST. CLAIR, Mich. -- The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw and Neah Bay break track lines for a commercial vessels in Lake St. Clair, Jan. 12, 2010.

Both cuttters are underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, the Detroit/St. Clair River systems, Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Guillermo Colom.

DETROIT RIVER - Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay cuts ice in the Detroit River in this photo taken during an ice patrol mission by an Air Station Detroit rescue helicopter crew, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. Ice patrol missions provide valuable information for those on the Great Lakes taking part in Operations Taconite and Coal Shovel, the largest domestic ice breaking missions in the nation. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Jaquish, Air Station Detroit.

DETROIT RIVER - Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay cuts ice in the Detroit River in this photo taken during an ice patrol mission by an Air Station Detroit rescue helicopter crew, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.

Ice patrol missions provide valuable information for those on the Great Lakes taking part in Operations Taconite and Coal Shovel, the largest domestic ice breaking missions in the nation.

U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Jaquish, Air Station Detroit.

LAKE ST. CLAIR, Mich. -- The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw and Neah Bay break track lines for a commercial vessels in Lake St. Clair, Jan. 12, 2010. Both cuttters are underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, Detroit/St. Clair River systems, Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Guillermo Colom.

LAKE ST. CLAIR, Mich. -- The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw and Neah Bay break track lines for a commercial vessels in Lake St. Clair, Jan. 12, 2010.

Both cuttters are underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, the Detroit/St. Clair River systems, Lakes Erie and Ontario, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Guillermo Colom.

DETROITThe U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have commenced Operation Coal Shovel, seasonal domestic ice breaking operations in the southern part of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair and Detroit River systems, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, starting Thursday, Jan. 3. 

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers work together to prevent ice jams in these vital economic waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter.

Ice jams can create a disruption to the flow of maritime commerce, so the icebreakers work diligently to flush ice down the river to facilitate transportation of vital winter cargoes.  U.S. and Canadian crewmembers coordinate, conduct and track maintenance, provide vessel assistance and conduct flushing operations to minimize the potential for residential flooding. The mission of Operation Coal Shovel is to quickly reopen the Great Lakes maritime transportation system for the movement of commercial vessels that may become beset in the ice.   

Mild temperatures last winter precluded the need for icebreaking assets in the lower lakes and the Coast Guard did not conduct Operation Coal Shovel.

As the 2013 Operation Coal Shovel begins, Coast Guard Sector Detroit and the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to monitor and identify declining waterway conditions and potential hazardous ice conditions.  Sector Detroit provides command and control for Operation Coal Shovel and may close or open the waterways as ice conditions dictate.  Sector Detroit also considers the protection of the marine environment and waterways, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g. ferries), the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland when making closure decisions.

 

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