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U.S. Coast Guard's ice breaker deploys to help shipping industry

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 - 01:08

Jan. 15 - To assist freighters in sub-zero temperatures, the Coast Guard's 3500 ton Mackinaw chops up thick ice and creates a path for the ships. Jillian Kitchener reports.

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Thick ice affects the shipping industry every winter. But this year, sub-zero temperatures came early. To help freighters make their deliveries, the Coast Guard's 3,500 ton Mackinaw chops up ice and creates a path through the Great Lakes waters. Captain Mike Davanzo: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN MIKE DAVANZO, SAYING: "It really impacts the Great Lakes region and really the global economy." It took the Coast Guard 17 hours to free this freighter. Last week was exceptionally tough, as record low temperatures numbed the region: (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN MIKE DAVANZO, SAYING: "It was a difficult, challenging time for us." Most ice breakers use their weight to break the ice, but the Mackinaw's propulsion system can also churn up the ice like a blender, creating a path wide enough for freighters. Range-finders stand outside in negative 18 degree temperatures to measure distances between the Coast Guard and other ships. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL COOPER, SAYING: "When you're getting reports from a range-finder saying you're six feet away from a thousand foot vessel, you get pretty nervous." The Mackinaw and eight other Coast Guard ice breakers will be out all winter, as most of the shipping channels will likely be frozen over until late March.

U.S. Coast Guard's ice breaker deploys to help shipping industry

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 - 01:08

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