Ice Breaking Mission Wraps Up

CLEVELAND — The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay departed Cleveland Wednesday afternoon to return to the cutter’s original homeport of Rockland, Maine, after spending the winter breaking ice on the Great Lakes.

Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the 9th Coast Guard District, presided over a brief ceremony Wednesday to thank the crew members for their efforts.

“Even though there was less ice this year than anticipated, I’m very grateful for the extra assistance the Thunder Bay crewmembers provided their Great Lakes shipmates this winter,” said Parks. “It was a privilege to have the Thunder Bay here, and I wish the crew a safe voyage home.”

The 140-foot ice-breaking tug was temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes to augment the eight other Great Lakes-based icebreakers during Operation Taconite, a major Great Lakes ice-breaking operation.

The crew of the CGC Thunder Bay arrived in Cleveland on Dec. 12, 2011, and spent the ice-breaking season operating in the northern Great Lakes due to diminished ice conditions in the southern regions. The cutter did experience unforeseen mechanical problems but Maintenance Augmentation Team Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., provided mechanical support, for which the Thunder Bay crew thanked the crew of MAT Sault Ste. Marie. Click here to read more.

The crew participated alongside other Coast Guard icebreakers in operations that facilitated the safe navigation of vessels and cleared paths for more than 67 commercial freighters. The cutter spent more than 175 hours breaking Great Lakes ice, keeping tracks and channels open for navigation. The crew spent 11 hours in direct support of five vessels beset by ice. Overall, their efforts contributed to the safe transit of more than 160,000 tons of cargo, valued at more than $5 million.

“Although this winter was not statistically important, the region’s intermodal transportation system was hindered by ice,” said Mark Gill, of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Vessel Traffic Service. “Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay was one of eight cutters to support Operation Taconite, and the crew’s service greatly enhanced the Coast Guard’s mission performance.”

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