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Cargo Ships Hampered By Ice On Lake Superior

Coast Guard Relies On One Ice-Breaking Vessel

Coast Guard News (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Difficult ice conditions on Lake Superior this month have some in the shipping industry calling on the U.S. Coast Guard for more resources.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow said 12 upbound lakers struggled to make their way through a 35-mile stretch of ice on eastern Lake Superior.

“These conditions have certainly highlighted and pinpointed some weaknesses in our ability to deal with these more extreme weather conditions,” Sharrow said.

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The Lake Carriers Association is calling on the Coast Guard to build another heavy duty ice breaker like its main cutter, the Mackinaw. U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Keith Ropella said they would if they had unlimited funds.

“If ice conditions like the last two years become the new normal, we would certainly have to look at increasing our ice-breaking asset capability in the Great Lakes,” he said.

Ropella said they receive around $114 million a year for ice breaking operations.