Coast Guard completes ice breaking on Great Lakes

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — More than five months of ice breaking on the northern Great Lakes has been completed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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In this Tuesday, April 22, 2014 photo, the 140-foot icebreaker Biscayne Bay cuts through thick ice on the St. Mary's River on its way to escort vessels north to the Soo Locks, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The U.S. Coast Guard says they have spent more than four months breaking ice to open shipping lanes throughout the Great Lakes. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

The Coast Guard says Friday that operation Taconite ended Thursday and encompassed all of Lakes Superior and Michigan, the northern half of Lake Huron, the St. Marys River and the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie ran the 160-day operation which included more than 5,000 hours of ice breaking for convoys. Nearly 950 commercial ships were assisted.

The Coast Guard says the past winter season is believed to have produced the thickest and most expansive ice cover on the Great Lakes in the past 35 years.