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. Ice breaking in support of commercial navigation is no longer needed as the ice throughout the Western Great Lakes is nearly melted.

While the Great Lakes ice cover peaked at 56% on February 26, Lake Superior was 80% covered on March 15.

The 2022 domestic icebreaking season lasted 108 days. Eleven ice breakers combined to deliver 2,046 hours of icebreaking assistance to the benefit of 404 vessel transits. 197 of these movements required direct icebreaking assistance to ensure commercial vessel safety.

Additionally, the eleven ice breakers conducted 3,685 hours of preventative icebreaking to establish and maintain tracks in the ice hampered waterways of western Lake Superior, the St Marys River, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, and the Straits of Mackinac.

During the 108 day operational period, at least 7.8 million tons of dry bulk and liquid cargoes were estimated to have been assisted. This translates to roughly $284 million US dollars of cargo critical to power generation, industrial productivity and public safety, assisted during this period of ice cover.