Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ice Continues to Pose Problems on Lake Erie, Despite Recent Thaw

Despite the recent thaw, ice continues to be a problem for tankers running on Lake Erie to and from the refineries at Nanticoke, Ontario. Three of Algoma Tankers' ships, the ALGOEAST, ALGONOVA, and ALGOSAR, have been running, with the assistance of CCGS GRIFFON, from Nanticoke to Sarnia.

Last Friday, ALGONOVA became stuck in ice outside of Ashtabula, Ohio on its way to Nanticoke. After working diligently throughout the day, the GRIFFON was able to assist the ALGONOVA as far as four miles west of Long Point before suspending operations for the night. On Saturday, south winds and warm temperatures pushed ice from the south shore of the Lake to the north, leaving the ALGONOVA stuck. The GRIFFON worked all day without success before freeing the ALGONOVA Sunday morning.

ALGONOVA finally arrived in Nanticoke during the late morning on Sunday and unloaded her cargo of petroleum products before departing on Monday evening with the GRIFFON's assistance. At the same time, on the west end of Lake Erie, ALGOEAST was escorted downbound by the USCGC HOLLYHOCK to Southeast Shoal. There, the HOLLYHOCK departed for Fairport Harbor to break open the Grand River in anticipation of the coming thaw. This is necessary to prevent the river from overrunning its banks and flooding the nearby town.

ALGONOVA and GRIFFON worked through the night heading west before the GRIFFON picked up the ALGOEAST earlier this morning to escort the vessel to Nanticoke. Reportedly, ice cover is very light on the lake until vessels arrive at a position about 25 miles west of Long Point (near Conneaut) when the ice becomes extremely heavy and windrowed.

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