While in the region, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug from Rockland, Maine, will assist other Coast Guard icebreakers during Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, the largest domestic icebreaking operations in the country.
The Coast Guard conducts domestic icebreaking to aid in search and rescue and other emergency operations, to mitigate flooding, and to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.
Ice-breaking on the Great Lakes is vital to keeping shipping lanes open. Large quantities of steel, coal, heating oil and grain ships throughout the region, and Coast Guard ice breaking services enable these shippers to transport an average of $2 billion worth of cargo each year, the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard cutters from the northeastern U.S. have successfully assisted with ice breaking in the Great Lakes for the past three winters — the cutters Morro Bay, homeported in New London, Conn., during the 2010-2011 winter; Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., during the 2009-2010 winter; and Thunder Bay during the winter of 2008-2009.
While the crew of the Thunder Bay is deployed to the Great Lakes, other New England cutter crews will cover the Thunder Bay’s traditional area of responsibility when the need for ice breaking there arises.
The crew of Thunder Bay plans to post regular updates on the cutter’s official Facebook page.