Sundew, Risley battle ice jam off Duluth 04/06
With several vessels chafing to leave port and more arriving off shore, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sundew and the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Samuel Risley spent Saturday battling thickly packed ice that plugged both entrances to the Twin Ports.
Strong northeast winds that blew for more than 36 hours packed ice into the Duluth Ship Canal and Superior Entry and built a tightly packed field of broken ice that extended three miles off shore by Saturday morning. No ships had been able to enter or leave port since Thursday morning, when Indiana Harbor tried to depart and was forced to retreat after being stopped in the ship canal.
Following two days of foul weather, Saturday dawned calm and clear. During the night, Arthur M. Anderson joined Indiana Harbor at the Duluth port terminal to await an opportunity to leave port. Out on the lake, the Canadian Olympic, Canadian Progress and the Paul R. Tregurtha were stopped in the ice field or waiting just outside it off the Duluth ship canal.
The icebreaking action began about 8 a.m. when the Risley arrived from Thunder Bay. The icebreaker made steady progress through the ice field off the Duluth ship canal until it slowed to a stop about 1. 5 miles out. After several unsuccessful attempts to back and ram through a pressure ridge, the Risley backed to the edge of the ice field, turned and proceeded toward Superior Entry.
As the Risley was retreating, the Canadian laker that had lain outside the ice field overnight made a play for the ship canal, getting under way and making good progress for about half a mile before being stopped by the same pressure ridge that stymied the Risley. The vessel remained there for much of the day. Meanwhile, the Tregurtha got under way later in the morning and moved out of the ice field before stopping.
The Risley commenced working the ice off Superior Entry. Meanwhile, the Sundew got under way and proceeded down the harbor's front channel and began working the packed, broken ice inside Superior Entry. Working together, the two ships managed to open a track through the Superior Entry despite a tough pressure ridge about a mile off shore. They made several passes through the entry trying to widen the track. Even with a barely discernable breeze, they reported enough pressure on the ice that the tracks were closing. By midday, the Risley's captain estimated that 5 or 6 more hours would be needed to open a track.
Their actions were followed with interest by the masters of several vessels. The Indiana Harbor and Arthur M. Anderson were particularly keen to get under way. At one point, the Sundew proceeded down the front channel with the masters of both ships aboard so they could see the ice for themselves to judge whether their vessels could get through.
Inside the harbor, Cason J. Callaway had departed its layup berth overnight and was loading at the DMIR ore docks. Kaye E. Barker was calling for a tug for early after so it could depart layup in Fraser Shipyards and load at Midwest Energy Terminal. John G. Munson had backed out of the Fraser Shipyards drydock, and Philip R. Clarke also was preparing to leave the shipyard. Outside the harbor, another 1,000-footer arrived, stopping about 6 miles out to await developments.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the Sundew delivered both masters back to the port terminal. The Indiana Harbor and the Anderson were both tied up along the north dock wall. The masters immediately returned to their ships and preparations were begun to get under way. At 4:30 p.m., the Anderson departed the dock with assistance of the tug North Dakota. As soon as the Anderson passed the Indiana Harbor, the 1,000-footer began getting under way. Both proceeded down the front channels to attempt to breakout through Superior Entry.
At the same time, about half a mile away, the Kaye E. Barker, with one tug on the stern, was backing out of Fraser Shipyards. About one ship length behind was John G. Munson, also backing out.
Out on the lake, news of the vessel movements prompted activity on the two Canadian lakers. Canadian Progress and Canadian Olympic began maneuvering in the ice field to get over toward the Superior entry, about four miles away. Both were eager to get through the ice track and into the harbor after the Anderson and Indiana Harbor passed outbound.
During the evening, ship traffic resumed, with at least three vessels arriving. Paul R. Tregurtha entered port at 7:04 p.m., exchanging security call information with Philip R. Clarke, which was preparing to leave Fraser Shipyards in Superior -- the last vessel of Great Lakes fleet to enter operations this season.
Pictures by: Al Miller
Samuel Risley widening the track in the Superior entry.
Samuel Risley passes into Superior harbor.
Sundew churns through packed ice inside Superior entry, with some of the old Great Northern ore docks in the background.
Having taken on fuel, the Arthur M. Anderson was on a loose tether at the Duluth port terminal, eager to get under way.
Video - Sundew working ice in Superior entry.
Video -Samuel Risley working ice in Superior entry.
Arthur M. Anderson gets under way in late afternoon to attempt to get out of port.
Anderson pushes away from the dock using tug and bow thruster .
Video - Anderson and tug movie.
Anderson passes the Indiana Harbor.
Anderson heads down the front channel to battle the ice.
Indiana Harbor pulls away from the dock to follow the Anderson. After some discussion earlier in the day, the masters agreed the Anderson might turn better into the Superior entry, so would be the logical choice to lead the way.
Indiana Harbor pulls away from the dock.
Pictures by: Glenn Blaszkiewicz
Canadian Progress, Canadian Olympic and Paul R. Tregurtha wait off the Duluth entry.
Boats wait of the ice packed Duluth entry.
Looking past the ship canal light.
Indiana Harbor waits to depart.
John G. Munson and Kaye E. Barker depart the shipyard.
Kaye E. Barker.
Passing the Clarke.
Trailing tug on the Barker.
Philip R. Clarke.
Cason J. Callaway loading at DM&IR in Duluth.
Pictures by: Kent Rengo
Ice build up along the shore from the waves. The height of the ice was at least 15-feet in some areas.
Looking back to the Duluth Entry.
Canadian Progress and Canadian Olympic.
Philip R. Clarke and Armco at the ship yard.
Tug Minnesota breaking ice.
Kaye E. Barker departing.
Reported by: Al Miller, Glenn Blaszkiewicz, Richard Mc Govern and Kent Rengo