Great Lakes Coast Guard Finishes Largest Ice Breaking Operation

Five long months after starting Operation Taconite, the U.S. Coast Guard is finally finished with the nation’s largest domestic ice breaking operation in the northern Great Lakes.

The pictures show what the cutters had to deal with. A yardstick shows just how thick the ice was as the Cutter Katmai Bay broke through the Straits of Mackinac back in February.

Another picture shows the crew of the Cutter Biscayne Bay breaking up ice along the St. Mary’s River.

And finally, the crew of the Cutter Mackinaw helping escort a freighter near Whitefish Point in early April.

In all, crews of 9 United States Coast Guard and 3 Canadian Coast Guard ice breakers spent 160 days, and more than 5,000 hours breaking ice.

In February 2014, the Katmai Bay crew spent eight days escorting the motor tanker Algocanada’s up the St. Mary’s River, it usually takes 12 hours.

In March, the Cutter Mackinaw led a crossing of the Straits, followed by a tugboat and barge, it usually takes 12 hours, but lasted 4 days.

And the same cutter also led the first eastbound crossing of Lake Superior. Their voyage lasted nine days, though it usually takes 24 hours.