The Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay pulled up to the dock at the DECC early Sunday morning, March 21st. Earlier this season, they were part of a large effort to break up the ice in the St. Clair River, an operation that obviously succeeded in its task as commercial vessels are now moving easily. They were called to check out the ice conditions in the Keweenaw and the Apostle Islands but the ice was thick there and it was too early to send the ice fishermen back to shore. Those fishermen are lucky they don’t have to share their part of the lake with commercial traffic as much as Duluth Superior. The ice fishermen here were told to leave a week or more ago so the Alder could begin to clear the shipping channels for the approaching commercial traffic. So with too much ice at those destinations, the ice breaker Mobile Bay were sent to Duluth where they brought more ice in on their bow than they saw in the harbor. But Duluth is a good place to stop to take care of the necessities of life such as food, garbage and a little rest and relaxation. They will leave Tuesday morning for the Soo, although still ready for a change in plans as ice conditions change.
The Mobile Bay is 140 feet long and has a crew of 19 on board. When they aren’t breaking ice, they can usually be found pushing their 120 foot barge in front of them. The barge is back at their home port of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. When the ice is gone, they switch over to their other personality, a buoy tender. Since they don’t have a deck large enough hold the buoys they pick up and drop off, they bring the barge along for that. The barge also has a crane on board, something the Mobile Bay lacks since she is primarily an ice breaking cutter.