Coast Guard cutter keeps commerce flowing on Lake Erie

Coast Guard cutter keeps commerce flowing on Lake Erie

For the second year in a row, Lake Erie is almost completely iced over. It's an issue that, without some help from the U.S. Coast

, would put a freeze on commercial shipping operations.

On Sunday,

cutters cleared a path in the ice near Conneaut, helping to free a freighter that had been trapped for five days.

The Canadian Coast Guard works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard breaking up ice that's several feet thick to keep Lake Erie commerce flowing.

Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard in Cleveland invited us aboard the "Neah Bay" to get a first-hand look at how the boat's unique "bubbler system" blows high pressure air into the water to push away ice.

"That low pressure air rides up along the hull of the vessel and reduces the friction between both the ice and the snow that the cutter is trying to pass through," said USCG Lt. Joshua Zike.

Once the weather starts to warm up the Coast Guard cutters will be on a flood relief mission, breaking up ice jams at the mouths of rivers to keep water flowing into Lake Erie.

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