My Coast Guard

Icebreaking on the Great Lakes requires great partnerships

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

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The United States and Canadian Coast Guards work together at many levels coordinating operations and sharing resources, to conduct rescues on common waters. The U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District covers all the five Great Lakes and associated waterways, including the Saint Lawrence Seaway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes.

What many people do not realize, is that the Great Lakes are a shared waterway with our international partners to the north, Canada. This means that mutual cooperation is key between the two organizations to coordinate search and rescue (SAR) cases, ice breaking operations, and law enforcement missions

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario serves as the Canadian Coast Guard’s SAR response center.

“We work hand in hand with our SAR partners at District Nine,” said Chris Armour, regional supervisor of maritime SAR, at the Coordination Centre. “Our close international partnership allows us to work together in coordinating and executing rescues across the Great Lakes, both north and south of the border.”

SAR response might decrease in the winter months, but the operational pace remains constant as the region transitions to “hard water” operations on the waterways that ice over. Both countries provide icebreaking support to maintain the flow of commerce throughout the Great Lakes Region through the winter months.

Icebreaking is an important seasonal service that helps the United States and Canadian economies by moving cargo. The United States Coast Guard has nine cutters to support this crucial responsibility and work in conjunction with the Canadian fleet. Both services play important roles to prevent and sometimes respond to the formation of ice jams, which can cause flooding in residential communities along the lakes and rivers within the district.