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USCG Rescues 66 Anglers From Breakaway Ice Floe on Lake Michigan

rescue
Image courtesy USCG

By The Maritime Executive 02-07-2021 11:15:00

Last Thursday, multiple U.S. Coast Guard units joined local first responders to rescue 66 ice anglers who were stranded when an ice floe broke away from shore near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. 

At about 0900 hours that morning, Coast Guard crews from around Lake Michigan coordinated a large-scale response after receiving reports of stranded anglers near the mouth of Sturgeon Bay.

The ice had broken free from land, and high winds from an approaching winter storm system pushed the floe farther away from shore. Three groups of fishermen in three different areas had not planned on traversing open water, and they had no way off the ice.

Images courtesy USCG

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City launched two helicopters to the scene, and both lowered their rescue swimmers down to the ice to help coordinate with other responders as they arrived. Meanwhile, the helicopters provided overwatch and helped vector in ice rescue boats from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Brown County Sheriff's Office. 

The ice continued to crack into smaller sections throughout the crews' time on scene. After a four hour effort between all three agencies, 66 people were rescued, with no injuries reported. 

“Today’s success is a direct result of effective training and the longstanding and close relationships with our agency partners in the greater Sturgeon Bay Area,” said Cmdr. Bryan Swintek, search and rescue coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.

The effort was timely, as a major winter storm front was approaching, bringing snow and reduced visibility.