Michigan Senators Push for Another Great Lakes Icebreaker


MarineLog reports that both Senators from Michigan have requested “Robust” funding for a “Heavy Icebreaker” for the Great Lakes.

OK they called the Mackinaw a heavy icebreaker, and we know it really is not, so something less may work.

Looking at the excess Shell icebreakers we talked about earlier, it appears the already built icebreaker Aiviq, with a beam of 80 feet, is a little too large to squeeze through the St. Lawrence Seaway, but if Tups was right, and this is the icebreaking vessel Shell had under construction at Edison Chouest, its beam, 22 meters (72.2 feet) is less than the 78 foot  maximum for the Seaway. Maybe something could be worked out.

This is a lot larger and more powerful than USCGC Mackinaw.

Ship Name: LA SHIP 304
Shiptype: Anchor Handling Tug Supply
LR/IMO No.: 9788368
Gross tonnage: 6,000
Year of Build: 2017
Flag: United States Of America
Status: Keel Laid (status changed 2014-11-17)
Operator: Galliano Marine Service LLC
Shipbuilder: LaShip LLC
Length Overall: 94.600 m
Breadth Moulded: 22.000 m
Depth: 11.800 m
Machinery overview: 4 diesel electric oil engines driving, connected to 2 electric motors reduction geared to screw shafts driving 2 Azimuth electric drive units. Total Power: Mcr 20,240kW (27,520hp), Csr 17,204kW (23,392hp)
Prime mover detail: Design: Caterpillar, Engine Builder: Caterpillar Inc – USA, 4 x C280-16, 4 Stroke, Single Acting, Vee, 16 Cy. 280 x 300, Mcr: 5,060 kW (6,880 hp) at 900 rpm

Being somewhat cynical, if this was more than a political gesture, I would have thought they would have gotten signatures from Senators from other states that border the Great Lakes.

12 thoughts on “Michigan Senators Push for Another Great Lakes Icebreaker

  1. Of course congressional statement often contain factual errors, it is SOP~
    AS in all things about US govt ship construction, the Congress has some thing to say. It is entirely possible that buying a US built icebreaker for the GL was a “prearranged deal”?
    It should be noted that the USN is seeking a big AHTS type of ship to replace its old ATF and ARS.

  2. Pingback: Domestic Icebreaker Innovation | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  3. Pingback: Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress–Updated | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

    • One of the potential problems is that the icebreakers are needed around the world roughly at the same time. Both the Great Lakes winter navigating season as well as the Antarctic summer (Operation Deep Freeze) coincide with Baltic and Arctic winter seasons. While the past winters have been warm and not all icebreakers have been deployed, I would assume that the governments would still be reluctant to lease out their escort icebreakers because the next winter could again be hard and the icebreakers would then be needed in the home waters to keep the ports open. Some icebreakers need to remain on stand-by.

      Also, I doubt anyone would be willing to build a new vessel at bargain price on a foreign shipyard for Great Lakes duty, knowing that she’d be banned from US waters when the new American-built icebreaker is launched.

      The only icebreakers that I know to be “available” are Aiviq and perhaps the whole Danish icebreaker fleet that was, if I recall correctly, for sale some years ago. The Danes haven’t seen much action in the past years, but the vessels have been carefully maintained and should be in excellent condition. Perhaps that could be an interim solution?


      • It occurred to me that Baltic winter and Arctic summer might be a reasonable rotation, but really our Arctic Summer requirement is on the Pacific side of the Arctic, a long way from the Baltic. The Canadians might have an interest in that kind of arrangement.

      • Shell used Finnish icebreakers during the summer season in Alaska and, as far as I know, the arrangement worked fine. The ships sailed from the Baltic Sea via the Panama canal and then returned to Europe via the Northern Sea Route or the Northwest Passage.

  4. Just out of curiosity, are there any ice-class tugboats available in the Great Lakes? How about fitting some of them with a removable icebreaking extension (pages 12-13):

    Click to access arctic_passion_news_1_2018.pdf

    There’s another rendering on the designer’s website, showing the underwater hull form:


    It’s also interesting how the construction of the icebreaking bow has been contracted to a shipyard that has never built new vessels before – it’s a repair yard that specializes in normal drydockings and sometimes carries out minor conversion jobs. This keeps the cost down.

    And the best thing? You can make the removable bow just as “extreme” as you dare as you can drop it off for the summer open water season. This allows you to break very thick ice (or maintain high speed while icebreaking) with reasonable propulsion power while protecting the bow of the tugboat from ice damage.

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

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