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U.S., Canadian Coast Guards working help ships stuck in ice on Lake Superior

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LAKE SUPERIOR, MI -

There's a Great Lakes boating backup caused by 2 ships stuck in ice. 

The traffic jam's creating headaches for other ships traveling into and out of Lake Superior.

The ships are stuck in ice on a Michigan river, which connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron.

Now, Coast Guard teams from the U.S. and Canada are working to free them.

"This is a common occurrence for ships to become stuck in the ice. And when they do become stuck in the ice, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard, we work together to get those vessels out of the ice as quick as possible," said Lt. J.G. Sean Murphy of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

For several hours, Coast Guards from two countries have been cutting through ice around two freighters stuck near Neebish Island. 

With two freighters stuck, 11 other vessels, like this one, have had to stop in their tracks.

"They're restricting the waterway to 7 vessels that are currently waiting to go upbound the river and four vessels that are currently waiting to go downbound the river," said Murphy.

With the Soo Locks scheduled to close on January 15th, freighters waiting to go upbound are losing crucial time to load up on iron ore. 

"This is an important time of the year for them. They are trying to build up for those stockpiles that they are going to need, after we close the locks they are going to have about 10 weeks where they aren't going to be able to move steel, so its a really important time of year for them," said Army Corps of Engineer member Joanne Gray.

The Coast Guard says they will continue to cut ice throughout the river in order to keep the ships moving.

"The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard, we help facilitate over 1 billion dollars of cargo to be moved up and down the river in the winter. The Coast Guard prepares for this winter operation every year," said Murphy.

Once the Army Corps of Engineers closes those locks down, they don't open back up until March 25th. 

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