US, Canadian Coast Guard end ice breaking in North Channel, assist with clearing Harsens Island ferry path

January 27, 2015

A crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay mans the helm from the bridge of the cutter while assisting the motor vessel Whitefish Bay through the ice filled St. Clair River, Jan. 11, 2015.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers have spent more than 500 operational hours breaking ice during Operation Coal Shovel.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Gould

The crew of the Coast Guard Guard Cutter Neah Bay, homeported in Cleveland, transits through ice along the western basin of Lake Erie, Jan. 10, 2015.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ice breakers, as part of Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, have been working tirelessly to keep vessel traffic and important economic supplies moving throughout the Great Lakes.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Gould

DETROIT – After three days of concentrated effort, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers concluded flushing operations and cleared two significant plugs in the St. Clair River as part of Operation Coal Shovel.

The combined efforts of the Coast Guard cutters Bristol Bay, Mackinaw, Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley to break the St. Clair River, South Channel, Middle Channel and North Channel, relieved near-flood-stage water levels throughout the St. Clair River while reestablishing current and ice flow in the area. 

Following flushing operations, the Mackinaw remained overnight in the North Channel and by Tuesday afternoon had redirected ice damns caused by the flushing in an effort to clear the local ferry's path so it may resume normal operation.

Working with maritime industry partners, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers developed a plan to clear 12 commercial vessels, north and south of the St. Clair River, that were unable to transit the river due to severe ice conditions.

Throughout the remaining winter season, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers will continue escorting commercial vessels in the St. Clair River and the Great Lakes as weather conditions dictate.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Jillian Lamb, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit public affairs officer at 313-568-9587.