The Great Lakes Group


Great Lakes Icebreaking Services Joint Effort

For over 114 years, The Great Lakes Towing Company has worked with the United States and the Canadian Coast Guards to provide ice breaking services to US, Canadian, and foreign vessels transiting the Great Lakes. The commercial icebreaking industry, in concert with the Coast Guard and the Government of Canada, conducts icebreaking services to assist vessels and communities in emergency situations and facilitate essential commercial maritime activities in the Great Lakes by sustaining the navigable waterways for commercial traffic and transport of cargo.

There is a great economic benefit to having US Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard, and commercial services available.  They allow for ports to remain open and active year round, during both the navigating season and the closure of the Seaway, and vessel owners and operators can rely on the 24/7/365 responsiveness of the icebreaking services.  The very fact that the commercial icebreaking services are utilized year after year by vessels transiting the Great Lakes demonstrates their necessity and economic viability.

The Great Lakes Towing Company provides tugboat and towing services, ship assist, logistics and cargo transportation, ice breaking, and emergency assistance of every kind of vessel, barge, and marine structure in 40 U.S. Great Lakes ports from Buffalo, New York to Duluth, Minnesota.  The Towing Company’s tugs are available to perform commercial ice breaking services during the winter months of the Great Lakes Navigating season.  The tugs are capable of breaking ice of up to three feet thick and windrows up to six feet high.  Normally, the Towing Company provides ice breaking services within the harbors and in dock areas and slips, but they also provide ice breaking services in navigable waters across the lakes in Federal Channels and shipping lanes when U.S. Coast Guard or Canadian ice breakers are not available.