U.S. Coast Guard Concludes Ice Breaking Operations on the Western Great Lakes


SAULT SAINTE MARIE, Mich. – Commander, Coast Guard Sector Sault Sainte Marie concluded its domestic ice breaking operation, also known as Operation Taconite. With the ice throughout the Western Great Lakes nearly melted, ice breaking in support of commercial navigation is no longer required.  Early this morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Soo Locks.  M/V ROGER BLOUGH cleared the Poe Lock at 1:32 am signally the start of the 2016 Great Lakes Navigation Season.  Since the opening, two down bound ships and three additional up bound ships passed through the locks without delay.


This winter, ice coverage throughout the Great Lakes never significantly impacted commercial navigation.  In contrast to the 2014 and 2015 winter navigation seasons, 2016 ice coverage pales in comparison.  None the less, the seven U.S. Coast Guard cutters assigned to Operation Taconite still conducted 1200 hours of domestic ice breaking in support of United States and Canadian shipping interests.  It is estimated nearly 2 million tons of dry bulk and liquid cargoes, valued at more than $70 million dollars (US), were shipped during the 72 day winter navigation season.  These commodities were crucial to sustaining industrial production and power generation for the Great Lakes region during the winter months.


Further inquiries can be made by phone to Sault Vessel Traffic Service at (906) 635-3232 or via email at [email protected]