Logistics in Action: Keeping Cargo Moving

by Courtney Burnett for the Coast Guard Compass
Friday, May 03, 2013
U.S. Coast Guard cutters Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw break ice on the St. Mary’s River in Mich. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Rauch.

Although much of the country is welcoming spring and the warm weather that comes with it, many of the Great Lakes waterways are still laden with ice. Coast Guard icebreaking tugs continue to work on the lakes to keep critical shipping lanes clear for merchant vessels, remove hazardous obstructions to navigation and free ships stuck in ice. Their mission sustains a bi-national economy and keeps maritime crews safe.

This year’s icebreaking season has been a busy one filled with successful missions and a few unexpected challenges. One of the latter was a major electrical failure on board the icebreaking tug Biscayne Bay, homeported in St. Ignace, Mich. While this would be a lofty challenge to overcome, the centralized depot maintenance – resulting from modernization of the Coast Guard’s Surface Forces Logistics Center – repaired Biscayne Bay in a record 44 days.

An ice breaker breaks down

It’s a nightmare for every ship’s crew: the ship breaks, you don’t have the parts on board to fix it and you can’t complete your mission. Coast Guard engineers train and labor for thousands of hours, working day in and day out to maintain proficiency and keep the ship running. Crews take immense pride in their work, but some casualties are big enough they need to entrust their ship into someone else’s hands for repair.

Biscayne Bay suffered a catastrophic casualty Jan. 2, 2013, in the frozen Straits of Mackinac, Mich., preventing the cutter from completing its primary missions. As one of nine cutters expected to perform the domestic icebreaking mission alongside other U.S. and Canadian icebreaking cutters in the Great Lakes, the casualty threatened to relegate the ship and its crew to the sidelines.

Single point of contact, 24/7 support

Biscayne Bay reported the casualty to the Icebreaker, Buoy and Construction Tender Product Line in Baltimore, Md., where they quickly sprang into action. Naval Engineering Support Unit Cleveland sent a maintenance augmentation team to test Biscayne Bay’s main motor while the ship’s crew anxiously awaited the news. The results were exactly what they feared: Biscayne Bay’s main motor armature was broken.

The 140-foot tug class is a single-shaft cutter powered by one main motor. Suffering a casualty to a component of the main motor impairs the Biscayne Bay’s ability to get underway on its own power, rendering the tug not fully mission capable.

Taking a week, the Michigan-based Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw escorted the wounded tug south through frigid Michigan waterways to Sector Detroit. That was the easy part. Any seafarer knows critical repairs require extensive skill, knowledge and patience by engineers, contractors and ship’s crew. And every day the Biscayne Bay sat at the pier meant another day the rest of the region’s cutters would shoulder an increased workload to keep cargo moving across the lakes.

Communication and coordination

The geographically dispersed SFLC communicated and coordinated rapidly. The industrial operations division in Norfolk, Va., tasked Industrial Production Facility Detroit with preparatory work to remove the main motor. Tradesmen cut a hole in Biscayne Bay’s deck, disassembled the main motor and worked with the ship’s crew to remove the broken machinery on Jan. 24.

While the engine was taken apart and removed in Detroit, the SFLC contracting staff secured a commercial vendor and scheduled shipment of the armature for refurbishment by an Ohio motor repair contractor.

Thanks to seamless coordination between several SFLC offices across the United States, the original armature was repaired within a week and returned to Detroit for installation on Feb. 1. Engineers completed operational tests on the main motor and ensured compliance with safety standards. IPF Detroit tradesmen welded the hole through which the armature had been removed. On Feb. 12, the Biscayne Bay departed for sea trials and three days later, the ship returned to its duties.

In just 44 days, the SFLC restored an incapacitated Coast Guard asset to a fully functional icebreaking tug. When the ship’s commanding officer, Lt. Tom Przybyla, looked at his boat and thought of what was so quickly accomplished, he swore he saw Biscayne Bay smiling, happy to be back breaking ice on Michigan’s waterways.

Story from the Coast Guard Compass, official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard: coastguard.dodlive.mil

  • In just 44 days, the Surface Forces Logistics Center restored an incapacitated Coast Guard asset to a fully functional ice-breaking tug. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

    In just 44 days, the Surface Forces Logistics Center restored an incapacitated Coast Guard asset to a fully functional ice-breaking tug. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

  • Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay breaking ice and escorting ships on the Straits of Mackinac during the 2013 icebreaking season . U.S. Coast Guard photo.

    Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay breaking ice and escorting ships on the Straits of Mackinac during the 2013 icebreaking season . U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Maritime Reporter October 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


Foss Hires VP, General Counsel & Chief Ethics Officer

Foss Maritime announced that Lam Q. Nguyen-Bull has joined the company as the Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer.   Based in Seattle, Nguyen-Bull

MAN 32/44CR Engine for Trawler Newbuild

Voyager Fishing Company, Ltd., based in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, has ordered a new trawler/purse seiner, designed by Salt Ship Design in Norway and to be built at Karstensens Skipsværft in Skagen,

Royal Thai Navy Orders Harbor Tug

The Royal Thai Navy has ordered a new 32-meter tug from shipbuilder Italthai Marine Limited of Thailand, announced the vessel’s designer, Robert Allan Ltd.   Italthai Marine,

Coast Guard

Coast Guard Foundation Raises $250,000 for Scholarships

The Coast Guard Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

China Opposed to Parties Entering 'territorial' Waters

China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was against parties entering territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, as the United States is considering

ICCOPR Approves Updated Oil Pollution Research Plan

The Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR) unanimously approved the Oil Pollution Research & Technology Plan (OPRTP) for FY2015-2021

Arctic Operations

Wärtsilä 31 Engine for Aker ARC 124 Icebreaker

The recently introduced Wärtsilä 31 engine, which has been acknowledged by Guinness World Records as being the world's most efficient four-stroke diesel engine,

Eni Arctic Service Rig Extension Okayed

Italian oil company Eni has received permission from Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority to extend the use of a service rig on its troubled Arctic Goliat oil field offshore Norway until Nov.

Northern Fleet to Conduct Anti-terrorist Exercises

The sailors of the Northern Fleet will conduct anti-terrorism exercises at Novaya Zemlya. During the exercise, the coast will be a landing. The landing will


Retailers Well Stocked as Holidays Approach

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 3.3 percent this month over the same time last year as retailers make final

Commodities See Biggest Price Jump in 3 Years

Commodities jumped on Friday, headed for their largest weekly gain in more than three years as base metals roared higher after Glencore pledged to slash zinc output

Asia-N.Europe Box Rates Plunge 17 pct

Shipping freight rates for transporting containers from ports in Asia to Northern Europe fell 17.3 percent to $259 per 20-foot container (TEU) in the week ended on Friday,

Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1437 sec (7 req/sec)