New Icebreaker–For the Great Lakes?

Launch of USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) on April 2, 2005. Photo by Peter J. Markham.

Launch of USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) on April 2, 2005. Photo by Peter J. Markham.

gCaptain is reporting that the severe conditions in the Great Lakes over the last two winters and the resulting loss of iron production, have prompted support for another Great Lakes icebreaker at least as large as Mackinaw.

“This is the second year in a row a brutal winter has slowed early season shipments of iron ore and other cargos on the Lakes. In April 2014, shipments of iron ore totaled just 2.7 million tons, a staggering 53.3 percent below the month’s long-term average.

“As a result, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) included a provision in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that directs the U.S. Coast Guard to design and build a new, multi-mission icebreaker to enhance its capabilities on the Great Lakes.”

This could be an opportunity not only to build another icebreaker for the Great Lakes but also to design the three Medium Icebreakers the High Latitude Study has shown the Coast Guard needs.

A ship along the lines of Russia’s new oblique icebreaker would be particularly useful in the Great Lakes in that it would open a channel wider than the beam of the icebreaker itself.



10 thoughts on “New Icebreaker–For the Great Lakes?

  1. I, for one, would fully support USCG’s decision to obtain latest icebreaking technology instead of what Aiviq represents.

    • Continuing from my previous reply, there’s a very good reason why I think the oblique icebreaker concept proposed by Chuck would be perfect for the Great Lakes region. Such icebreaker could be built to fit the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway and still be capable of assisting even the biggest “Lakers” that have a beam exceeding 100 ft. Otherwise, you’ll either end up with a cutter that cannot leave the Great Lakes (just like the freighters) or you need to deploy more than one icebreaker to assist the biggest ships.

      • well what about a artic breaker? if they could get a off the shelf purchases its better then nothing at this point.

      • Is there such a thing as “off the shelf” when it comes to ships?

        If the USCG decided to use Aiviq as the basis for the next generation icebreaking cutter, they would have to adapt a vessel designed for a very specific purpose to a completely different one. As an anchor-handling tug/supply vessel, Aiviq is essentially a large seagoing tugboat designed to deploy anchors for floating drilling rigs. Many of the vessel’s features, such as the diesel-mechanical propulsion system and controllable-pitch propellers in nozzles, are typical for offshore vessels and not ideal for icebreakers. Finally, knowing Aiviq’s troubled operational history, I would perhaps think twice before using it as a starting point…

        Contrary to popular belief, it does not take that long to design and build an icebreaker as long as the client has at least some ideas about the features, funding is readily available and the shipyard knows what it’s doing. I guess that’s the problem with the USCG – they don’t really know what they want or need from the new icebreaker, who would pay for it and where it would be built…

  2. Pingback: “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Shipping: We need Icebreakers” –MarineLink | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  3. Pingback: Second Great Lakes Icebreaker? | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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