Man's Rescue Highlights Mission
By Jennifer McDermott
April 20, 2011
Morro Bay home after a winter of icebreaking
New London - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay returned to New London Tuesday after helping 81 vessels in the Great Lakes region get through the ice this winter and rescuing a man trapped on a piece of ice.
Coast Guard ships convene each winter in the Great Lakes region for the country's largest domestic ice-breaking operations. The Morro Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug, left its homeport Nov. 29.
Large quantities of steel, coal, heating oil and grain are shipped throughout the Great Lakes region. The 81 vessels, which were either stuck in the ice or needed an escort to get through the ice, carried about $100 million worth of cargo, Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Wyatt, the Morro Bay's commanding officer, said Tuesday.
The cutter also created paths in the ice for other ships. The crew spent 1,200 hours under way, broke ice in all five of the Great Lakes and traveled more than 9,000 miles, including the transit.
The deployment's highlight was rescuing a snowmobiler who was trapped on a piece of ice in Lake Erie on his 45th birthday, Wyatt said.
"After searching for him for a while, we had no indication he was still alive, and I didn't expect to find him alive," he said. "But we don't quit. If there's a possibility that someone could still be alive, we keep searching, and fortunately my initial impression was wrong."
Wyatt said the crew kept the 30-year-old cutter running in tough conditions. Tuesday, the chief of staff for the First Coast Guard District presented the ship with a meritorious unit commendation at the pier.