Great Lakes
(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

MI - Operation Coal Shovel: US Coast Guard Kicks Off Great Lakes Icebreking

The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday commenced Operation Coal Shovel, a domestic icebreaking operation to maintain commercial vessel traffic from southern Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair, to the St. Clair / Detroit River system, and into Lake Erie and Lake Ontario including the St. Lawrence Seaway.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers work together in these waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter to ensure the ability to conduct search-and-rescue, exigent community service, and the facilitation of navigation to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.

Both the U.S. and Canadian fleets also assist with flood mitigation efforts when requested to do so from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, other emergency operations include opening channels to icebound communities or breaking ice for the ferries that serve them to ensure critical supplies of food, heating oil or access to medical assistance is maintained.

Sector Detroit provides command and control for Operation Coal Shovel and may place restrictions or close waterways as ice conditions dictate. Due consideration is given to 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.

As the 2022-2023 Operation Coal Shovel season begins, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit and the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to monitor potentially hazardous ice conditions and conduct ice breaking operations throughout the Great Lakes.

Furthermore, phone conferences are conducted regularly with maritime shipping company representatives to coordinate ice breaking services and facilitate the movement of commercial vessels.

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