US and Canadian Coast Guards free cargo stuck in ice on Detroit River

A freighter is moving up the Detroit River again after temporarily getting stuck in the ice.

The vessel became stranded near the southern tip of Boblo Island, but the Canadian and US Coast Guards were on hand to help free the vessel and get it back under way around 11 a.m.

The ship had been stranded overnight, waiting for coastguard vessels to resume operations on Thursday morning and release it. The incident also prevented three other vessels, which were behind the stuck vessel, from moving along the river until the vessel was freed.

“We have launched Operation Coal Shovel, which is a joint, bi-national operation with Canadians and Americans to ensure the smooth flow of maritime commerce as the ice builds up,” said Sector Ensign Adeeb Ahmad. of Detroit from the US Coast Guard. « Usually we start this operation in mid-January… but due to the winter storm and ice build-up we started on Monday. »

« What we’re doing now is we’re just surveying the area and breaking the ice, and any ships that need our help to break free of the ice, we’re here to help. »

Isabelle Pelchat, superintendent of icebreaking for the Canadian Coast Guard’s Central Region, said the recent storm caused ice to form rapidly in the western basin of Lake Erie and in the Livingstone Channel of the Detroit River.

« We’ve been assisting the expedition for a few days now, » Pelchat said. “We have escorted, in conjunction with the US Coast Guard … over 30 vessels already.”

She said the recent winter storm was to blame for the dangerous conditions on the water.

« It had an effect that we hadn’t seen before at this time of year, » Pelchat said. « The combined cold weather and spectacle just created this ice formation, and it spread very quickly. »

« In the Livingstone Channel it went up to two feet, the ice, so that was something really unusual, » she said. “We expect the warm weather starting now, and continuing for the rest of the week, to ease conditions and make things much easier.”

Friday’s winter storm brought heavy snow and cold temperatures, causing the Detroit River to quickly freeze. The ice accumulation has kept the Canadian and US Coast Guards busy assisting cargo ships moving along the river, some of which are stuck in the ice. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Jeff Brown, who has lived in the area for two years, said there had been a « traffic jam » of ships on the Detroit River in recent days, with the Coast Guard helping several vessels move along the river, through the ice.

« The storm that hit just around Christmas there, I saw that lake freeze over in 24 hours, » he said. « Freezing for probably about 1,000 feet, almost to the shipping channel. »


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