As of yesterday, no ships had passed through the Soo Locks due to the overwhelming mass of ice on the world’s biggest lake. That doesn’t stop them from trying and (in this case) failing. The Cason J. Callaway ended up locked in ice and had to be rescued by the US Coast Guard’s flagship icebreaker Mackinaw.
Two freighters bound from Duluth, Minn. are battling their way through what a United States Coast Guard spokesperson called “brutal” and “extreme” ice conditions on Lake Superior to reach the Soo Locks.
The vessels, John P. Munson and Cason J. Callaway, are following the USCG Cutter Mackinaw but are making very slow progress.
Randy Elliott, vessel traffic manager with the USCG stationed in Soo Michigan, said Tuesday that the convoy left Duluth around the time the Soo locks opened for traffic on March 25. As of late yesterday, the southbound convoy was located about 40 kilometres south of Michipicoten Island, and were confronting ice three to three and a half feet thick with windrows six feet high in some places.
The three vessels opted not to use their normal route across the lake, and instead are following the north shore of Lake Superior, Elliott said.
No commercial ships, either north or southbound, have locked through since the official opening a week ago.
That also is not normal.
“Usually at this time of the year we would see 12 to 15 vessels north and southbound a day using the locks,” Elliott said.
Read on for more and definitely check out pasty.com’s photos by Callaway wheelsman, Keith Baker.
Thanks Shawn Malone of Lake Superior photo for the find and for the title! Get more on icebreaking on the the Great Lakes on Michigan in Pictures.