Breaking the ice

(WKYC) The Great Lakes hit the second highest level of ice coverage in recorded history this winter.

The U.S Coast Guard allowed me to spend a couple days on the Cleveland-based ice breaker, the Morro Bay, as it began a six week mission to open tracks in the ice for cargo ships.

Lt. Kenny Pepper captains one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s nine icebreakers on the Great Lakes.

“We’re going to start looking at what we call spring breakout, where we start opening up waterways and establish tracks for lakers to get moving again,” says Pepper.

Large cargo ships that move commerce on the Great Lakes are called lakers.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over 200 million tons of cargo are shipped every year through the Great Lakes. The three main cargoes are iron ore, coal and grain.

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