Thursday, April 20, 2006

Last Call For A Great Lakes Relic

The 61-year-old U. S. Coast Guard ice cutter Mackinaw is a floating relic. The Old Mac will be decommissioned on June 9.

Commissioned in December 1944, the Mackinaw, at 290 feet, is the Coast Guard's largest domestic ice cutter and was designed to keep shipping lanes open in the Great Lakes throughout the winter. It is being replaced by a new Mackinaw -- a smaller, more technologically advanced vessel. [...]

The World War II-era Mackinaw cost $10 million to build, $80 million less than it cost to construct the 254-foot-long new cutter, which arrived in Cheboygan last December.

The old Mackinaw, meanwhile, will become a museum and be immortalized in an hour-long documentary shot by a team of Michigan-based filmmakers. Thomas Moore, Michael Shamus and Chris Benjamin shot most of the documentary aboard the ship in March. [...]

Ahoy, and farewell.

The USCG Mackinaw at the bow of the Canadian Olympic in the Livingstone Shipping Channel. Completed in 1912, the Livingstone Channel in the lower Detroit River is a narrow deep draft shipping channel that was built using explosives to blast away the solid limestone rock. Its size, current and location can cause the channel to fill will ice, halting shipping. Normally used by down-bound traffic only, in the winter the Livingstone is open to both up and down-bound traffic and the only channel open for navigation.

This is a photo from the Canadian CG ice breaker Samuel Risley, working in tandem with the USCG ice breaker Mackinaw, to free the freighter Canadian Olympic in the Livingstone Shipping Channel.

Photo as the Risley slides back, down the port length of the 730 ft Olympic, after running up its length on the starboard side of the freighter. The Mackinaw is working at the bow of the freighter.

Photos courtesy of


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