Coast Guard Preps for Lake Erie Ice

November 24, 2010 Updated Nov 24, 2010 at 11:47 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Coast Guard Preps for Lake Erie Ice

November 24, 2010 Updated Nov 24, 2010 at 11:47 AM EDT

NEW YORK -(WKBW-TV)- A Connecticut-based Coast Guard cutter is scheduled to deploy to the Great Lakes Nov. 29, 2010, to assist in the service's ice breaking mission there throughout the winter months.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, an 140-foot icebreaking tug, will arrive in the Great Lakes region a few weeks after it departs its homeport of New London, Conn.

While there, the crew will assist those of other Coast Guard icebreakers during Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, the largest domestic ice breaking operations in the country. The Coast Guard conducts domestic ice breaking to aid in search and rescue and other emergency operations, 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.

Coast Guard cutters from the Northeast and New England have successfully assisted with icebreaking in the Great Lakes for the past two winters - the cutter Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., during the 2009-10 winter and the cutter Thunder Bay, from Rockland, Maine, during the winter of 2008-09.

"Icebreaking in the Great Lakes region is a tremendously important annual mission for the Coast Guard, and we'll do all we can to keep the public safe and facilitate the flow of commerce," said Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District. "We appreciate the Morro Bay's assistance, and look forward to working side-by-side with them and our Canadian counterparts."

While the crew of the Morro Bay is deployed to the Great Lakes, other cutter crews will cover their traditional area of responsibility if the need for icebreaking there arises.