Coast Guard crews kick off Operation Coal Shovel icebreaking

The 519-foot cement freighter Alpena moves up the St. Mary's River Friday, March 25, 2011 (AP Photo/John L. Russell).

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard crews have kicked off Operation Coal Shovel icebreaking operations in part of the Great Lakes.

The effort got going Friday. It encompasses southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Coast Guard icebreakers from both countries work together to break ice in the waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter. The Coast Guard also provides flood mitigation assistance as requested from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Operation Taconite, another Coast Guard icebreaking operation, takes place in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron.

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