We’re off

The US Coast Guard cutter Alder departed her dock right on time, 9 am, March 9, 2015. As always, she was the first vessel movement in the port since January.


  1. I’ve seen Bristol Bay, Hollyhock, and Neah Bay working the St Clair/Detroit area this morning. Griffon came into the Detroit with its escort and now Samuel Risley is steaming east across Lake Erie.

    I see that Alder has been working the ice in Duluth and Mobile Bay has been working in the Straits. Mackinaw is heading south down the bay. I wonder if they intend to break out Green Bay.

  2. Concerning the Sturgeon Bay breakout, it appears the first boats out of the shipyard will be the Central Marine Logistics vessels, the Joe Block and the Wilfred Sykes. The deck department (forward end) goes aboard this coming Monday. That probably means a sail date of Thursday or so. They will be involved in the Escanaba to south Lake Michigan steel mills for two or three weeks. Mike

  3. I finally found a good enough track to see that Katmai Bay was still in port at St Ignace rather than coming down from Sault St Marie. It looks like they’ve been working the route from west of Mackinac Island eastward to the entrance by Drummond Island.

    Mackinaw and Mobile Bay seem to be heading for Escanaba. I suppose that could mean that one of the ships in Sturgeon Bay is going to start carrying iron ore from Escanaba down to Indiana. That would be the only source of iron ore for the next three weeks so perhaps that is the case.

    • Boatnerd News for 3/7 mentioned the Sturgeon ice breaking was to facilitate movement of commercial vessels moored at Bay Shipbuilding; Green Bay next; then track lines to Little Bay De Noc and Escanaba iron ore docks( confirming your guess?)
      BN for 3/5 mentioned 15 ships moored at Sturgeon (it lists by name) . With that many ships in that small an area I would think the sooner they started there the better.
      Please refer to the articles for details.

  4. Greg Hayden says:

    Nine page 1946.79 KB USCG PDF describes Great Lakes Ice Breaking

  5. Mackinaw and Mobile Bay have finished breaking ice in Sturgeon Bay (I still don’t know why that was an early priority) and are now heading north in Lake Michigan. I’m not sure what the next priority is. I assume they’ll either work on the Straits or break out Escanaba.

    Biscayne Bay is apparently down right now. However, Katmai Bay came back down into Huron and has been breaking ice this morning.

    Down in the St Clair/Detroit section, Bristol Bay has come out. That makes four ships (Bristol Bay, Neah Bay, Hollyhock, and Samuel Risley) working that area. I see that Risley has made some forays up into Huron. That leaves Morro Bay down in Cleveland as the only breaker that hasn’t come out yet.

    Griffon is still escorting in Erie.

  6. todd johnson says:

    I have been checking on Alder most of today March 9 , it seems to be stopped off Superior entry all afternoon, Stuck?

    • Brent R says:

      They spent at least two hours backing and ramming but it looks like they are heading back in now.

    • They are stopped in the ice off the Superior entry and hope to return to port on Tuesday

      • They are still out there; their crane is up in the air; they may be using it to move them from side to side to break open the ice

      • I figured last night that Alder would wait for daylight to try it again. However, I’ve only seen slight movements from them today. If they are stuck, I’m not sure what they can do. It would take more than a day’s steaming for Mackinaw to reach them and I don’t know if any of the commercial tugs at Duluth could assist. Their movement track looks like it’s about 2 seconds. One minute is a nautical mile so I guess they’ve moved about 200 feet today. Their current status says “At anchor”.

        Mackinaw and Mobile Bay are breaking ice in Sturgeon Bay. I’m not sure why it is being broken out this early. However, they’ve made multiple passes so that is clearly what they are doing. If you look at the website for the Soo Locks it still indicates an opening date of the 25th: https://webcam.erdc.dren.mil/soo/

        Biscayne Bay has come out of port at St Ignace. Right now, they are heading for the gap between Mackinac Island and Round Island which is the route Mackinaw took yesterday.

        • Whatever Alder was doing seems to have worked. They are now loose enough to back and ram. They’ve moved about 2,000 feet. It may take them awhile but they should be able to get back in port this afternoon.

          Hollyhock and Neah Bay are both working the Detroit/St Clair section. The fact that Neah is in the area must mean that Bristol Bay is down for maintenance. Morro Bay hasn’t come out at Cleveland yet. I haven’t seen Katmai since she headed back up the St Marys but AIS coverage in that section is sparse. Biscayne is now well past Mackinac Island and has turned NE. Perhaps she is heading up the St Marys.

  7. In honor of this special day, I will again link to Swing Out Sister’s performance of “Breakout”.

    I guess we’re going to talk about ice breaking. Griffon is continuing escort duty on Lake Erie, taking Algo Canada east right now. In the St Clair River, it looks like Neah Bay is docked at the moment, Hollyhock is working in the river and Samuel Risley seems to be escorting Algo Hansa. I haven’t been able to view the Detroit River cam yet to see how bad the ice is.

    It looks like the private tug, Spartan might be breaking ice in Ludington, MI. This would be much earlier than last year.

    Mackinaw’s destination indicates the St. Marys River. However, right now they are working around Bois Blanc Island. I remember last year when the first thing they had to do was break Biscayne Bay out of the harbor at St Ignace. It looks like they are heading towards Mackinac Island. I don’t know if they are going to do some work in the Straits before they head up to the St Marys. Considering how much trouble Katmai and Mobile had trying to get Anderson through the Straits a little work by Mackinaw might be good.

    The Soo Locks cam shows nothing but solid ice around the locks so I’m sure Katamai Bay could use the help when Mackinaw heads up.

    My big surprise is that I’m seeing Alder heading out into Lake Superior after breaking ice in the harbors this morning. The reports I saw were ice 12-18″ thick. Perhaps she is going to find out first hand.

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