|All hands on deck aboard the Alder on December 14, 2016, breaking ice on their deck as they moved across Lake Superior. All of this while US Coast Guard Sector Soo began Operation Taconite, their annual push to clear shipping channels of ice so lakers can get another 2 or 3 weeks before the season ends. For now, the Alder was assigned the western end of Lake Superior for their ice breaking operations. That seems logical but in others years, they were breaking ice in Lake Michigan and cutters like the Biscayne Bay came here to break up our ice. All pictures here courtesy of the Alder.|
|Alder approaches the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Houghton, Mich., Dec. 16, 2016.|
|Alder breaks a path through the ice in the Keweenaw Waterway near Houghton, Michigan on Dec. 16, 2016.|
|Join the Alder and 25 members of LSMMA as they open the 2016 shipping season in Duluth Minnesota|
|Our Coast Guard cutter Alder made a quick trip into the harbor this morning (February 22, 2016) to reposition the ship, bow pointing out, for her first ice breaking session this season, sometime in early March. In the pictures here, she is slowly backing into her mooring.|
|The Alder was out this morning (Wednesday, January 13, 2016), preparing a path for the last vessel traffic of the season. (see picture of harbor and the tracks the Alder laid down at the bottom of this page)|
|Information from the Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Duluth-Superior shipping season winds to a close;
7 lakers to be in Port for winter layup
Duluth, Minn., U.S.A. (1/12/16) – The Port of Duluth-Superior is welcoming seven ships for winter layup this year. In fact, the Indiana Harbor laid up early (on Nov. 3) and a major repowering project is already underway at Fraser Shipyards on the Herbert C. Jackson, in dry dock since early December.
The Soo Locks (at Sault Ste. Marie) are set to close at midnight on Friday, Jan. 15. By then, four more wintering vessels are expected to have arrived in the Twin Ports beginning Thursday morning with the anticipated arrival of the Edwin H. Gott, followed Friday or later by the American Century, the Kaye E. Barker and the Philip R. Clarke. We say “expected” to arrive as transit times vary with wind and weather.
Boatwatchers will have to wait just a little longer for the arrival of the very last laker – the Paul R. Tregurtha – as the thousand-footer is making one or two late season, intra-lake deliveries of iron ore. Her arrival beneath the Aerial Bridge next week will officially mark the end of the 2015 Great Lakes shipping season here in the Twin Ports. [Note: Last ‘saltie’ of the season, Federal Bering, departed Duluth on Dec. 18; the St. Lawrence Seaway closed on Dec. 31.]
In all, seven (7) Great Lakes freighters will be wintering in the Twin Ports this year:
Vessel Location ARRIVAL
Indiana Harbor Enbridge Dock 11/03/15
Herbert C. Jackson Fraser Shipyards 12/11/15
Kaye E. Barker Fraser Shipyards
Edwin H. Gott Port Terminal Berth 1
Philip R. Clarke Port Terminal Berth 4
American Century Port Terminal Berth 6/7
Paul R. Tregurtha Midwest Energy Resources Co.
While ships’ crews will take the next few, well-deserved weeks off, there is no real ‘down time’ on the waterfront. Hundreds of workers – engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others –will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty maintenance and repair work so these vessels are ready to sail when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25 and the 2016 Great Lakes-Seaway shipping season gets underway.
|Dave Campbell, Chief operator on the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, LCDR Anthony J. Maffia, Commanding officer Coast Guard cutter Alder and Vanta E. Coda II, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority are just outside the bridge on the Alder enjoying the almost warm weather this morning (March 12, 2015).|
|Listen as we salute the bridge while going out to the lake. You will first hear a warning they gave us just before blowing the whistle; I think it says, “Ears on deck,” meaning hold your ears.|
|The Alder was the first vessel to go under the Lift Bridge this season. That gave a chance for Campbell to go under the bridge. He has gone up with the bridge thousands of times; this was only his 3rd time to go under the bridge.|
|Below, we are just about to leave the ice and go for a short trip on the open water of Lake Superior, about 5 miles out.|
|The temperature was pretty warm for March 12, but inside the pilot house, where the smart people stay, it was nice and warm.|
|We returned using the track we had opened up on the way out; notice the wind was already moving it around; we left a straight track behind us.|
|Some of the bridge operators had to say hello to the boss as he passed under them.|
|Great Lakes Towing Company tugs North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana and Minnesota are already in open water. Behind them, the American Integrity spent the winter at the Port Authority dock at Holcim Cement.|
|The Mesabi Miner has been at Midwest Energy Resources for the winter. With no cargo, she is high in the water (ice) but will soon be loading coal and will likely be the first commercial boat to depart the port within the next week.|
|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.|
Click on any picture to see a larger version
|This is what I think, but don’t bet on it. The Presque Isle left here on March 22th with a partial load of pellets and I think loaded pellets at Two Harbors and then tried to get to the other end of Lake Superior but had ice trouble and came back here for repairs, arriving on March 29th still with her pellets. Some of those pellets were off loaded into the American Spirit, which had not yet left Duluth. She offloaded pellets to make repairs easier. The American Spirit left here on April 7th with pellets loaded from the Presque Isle. She went to Two Harbors to load pellets and then came back this morning (above) with both loads of pellets. To wait, I presume.
Back on March 24th the Mackinaw, Katmai Bay and Morro Bay arrived Duluth and left here on March 26th. Two days later, on March 28th, the Alder arrived Duluth with an ice-wounded Morro Bay lashed to her side with the Katmai Bay leading them under the Lift Bridge.
|Several days later, the Katmai Bay departed to return to ice breaking duties while the Morro Bay stayed here for repairs to her rudder. That happened early this week and she left but did not go very far away. The Katmai Bay returned to Duluth this morning, April 9th (above), and the Morro Bay was back at the DECC with the Katmai Bay by late this afternoon.|
|Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, late this afternoon, the Canadian ice breaker Pierre Radisson left the Soo leading a convoy of boats trying to get to Duluth (Click on the the map above). The Mackinaw was going to be with the convoy but as I write this, she was still at the Soo.|
|So here is my guess. When the convoy arrives here, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, we will have 5 ice breakers here, counting the Alder. All of a sudden, we will/may have a bunch of boats here to load cargo and then go back out to the lake, I would guess with the help of some of our flotilla of ice breakers. And presumably the American Spirit came back and is waiting to be a part of that convey. Or Not!|
|You can find the satellite images here: http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/index.html Just click on MODIS Imagery; Great Lakes MODIS True Color; and then select the lake you want, such as Superior|
|The US Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay left here a week ago and today (March 28, 2014), she was towed back to port by the Alder after sustaining damage to her rudder while breaking ice. Outside the Duluth piers, they lashed the Morro Bay to the side of the Alder for the trip through the ship canal. The Katmai Bay, also here a week ago, led them in to port. The Presque Isle is also coming back to Duluth to repair damage to her hull caused by the ice.|
|This video was taken March 10, 2014, and is a little less polished than others but I wanted to get it posted quickly.|
|Dan Rau took this picture on Wednesday (March 5, 2014), as the Alder was returning from a long day breaking ice. While following the path she opened on the way out, you can notice the ship has moved to the right so she can widen the original path for the next trip. (click pic to enlarge)|
|Our current US Coast Guard cutter Alder (above) was out this morning opening up the shipping channels for boats returning to Duluth for the winter. The Sundew, our ‘old’, and now retired, Coast Guard cutter (foreground), was sitting at her dock waiting for summer. And a good thing for those sailors on the Alder. The pilothouse is warm and comforting on the Alder, while the Sundew had an open pilothouse, not the best place to spend a winter day in the Northland.|
|On March 11, 2013, the Alder broke away from the ice around her dock and began her task of clearing the shipping channels in the Duluth Superior harbor, as well as breaking ice and working buoys in other parts of the Great Lakes. Today, April 7, 2013, almost a month later, she came back home. She won’t have to break any ice in the port since the ice is pretty well beaten up first by the Alder, Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw and then by a steady stream of Great Lakes freighters that have been kicking the ice around since the Mesabi Miner departed here on March 20th.|
On March 13th, 2013, the US Coast Guard cutter Alder made her second ice breaking trip of the new season. She retraced some of the tracks she broke out on Monday and went under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge to open a track to the end of the ice pack, about 5 1/2 miles out.
Click to see new video looking back at the winter (spring?) of 2007
|More ice breaking videos:
March 9, 2011; watch the Alder break ice in Duluth
January 9, 2008: Alder out breaking ice as last boats come in for layup
January 6, 2008: The ice breaker Biscayne Bay in DuluthNote: the Biscayne Bay will NOT be here to help the Alder break ice on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Alder will be breaking ice in the harbor and perhaps out in the Lake on Monday.
|The Alder returned to the Twin Ports early Friday morning (January 25, 2013) and went right to work clearing the path for the John G. Munson to take when she comes in, later today, to move to Fraser Shipyards for winter layup. Below, at 12:15 in the afternoon, the Munson finally came in (below) and officially closed the shipping season, we assume.|