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Thick ice damages several Great Lakes vessels
The ice conditions on Lake Superior are damaging some vessels heading to the Soo Locks. Brad Phenow reports.
So far, none have made it that far even though the locks have been open for almost a week.
Coast Guard cutters are taking it to a new level this year to get the vessels from the Twin Ports to the Soo Locks. But Duluth Seaway Port Authority Public Relations Manager Adele Yorde says even with the extra effort, it’s no easy task.
“Three had left; the Callaway, the Munson, and the Presque Isle with the idea of moving this as a convoy down to the Soo Locks.”
The three lakers were escorted by the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, the largest ice cutter on the Great Lakes. They left Duluth-Superior three days before the Soo Locks opened. But Yorde says only two are still underway.
“The Presque Isle did have to return to the dock here for a couple of repairs on her hull.”
Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services Director Mark Gill says the damage is significant.
“There were several gashes in the hull that we believed are ice caused.”
Yorde says the two vessels that remain are making slow but steady progress.
“By the time they get through the Soo it will be about a two week transit, and usually that transit is about three days.”
Along with the Presque Isle, the Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay is laid up due to damage to their rudder. It had to be towed back to Duluth. Gill says the dive team investigated the rudder damage on Saturday.
“There are six pins that hold that mechanism together, and five of those six pins were sheered.”
He says they are hoping for an in-water fix but a dry dock fix is not out of the question. Until that is determined it’s not clear how long the Morro Bay will be out of commission, at least 10 to 14 days.
Gill says the ice damaged five vessels on Thursday alone.
Yorde says the ice conditions are leading to a very slow start.
“Last year we were welcoming our first ocean going vessel yesterday. We probably won’t even see our first in-bound laker until the middle of next week.”
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