U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Jon Hickey, commander, Ninth Coast Guard District and Assistant Commissioner Marc-André Meunier of the Canadian Coast Guard Central Region signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Feb. 15 to renew the two coast guards’ agreement for the coordination of icebreaking and buoy tending operations on the Great Lakes, including the main connecting navigable waterways, Georgian Bay, and the shared portion of the St. Lawrence River.

The agreement details how the agencies will tend a small portion of each other’s floating aids to navigation that are located closer to each other’s buoy tending resources. This will increase response times for aid outages or defects, reduce vessel transit times and cost, and decrease the expenditure of operational man-hours.

The countries’ Coast Guards will also coordinate their icebreaking operations on the shared water of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. This includes implementing arrangements and procedures with regard to:

• exchange of personnel;

• reporting on the availability of icebreaking facilities;

• means of communication;

• allocation of areas of operational mandate; and

• other matters relevant to their cooperation and the coordination of their icebreaking operations.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to finalize this plan between the Canadian Coast Guard Central Region and the Ninth Coast Guard District to improve our efficiency with ice breaking and aids to navigation in the Great Lakes,” Rear Adm. Hickey said in a statement announcing the MOU signing. “A lot of time and hard work went into putting this MOU in place, and I look forward to seeing the marine transportation system in the Great Lakes region thrive as a result. I’m thankful for this partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard and can’t wait to see what more we can accomplish in the future.”

This new and updated MOU combines existing MOUs between the two agencies that have been in place for the last 10 years.

“We work closely with our United States Coast Guard Ninth District partners to ensure essential coast guard services across the Great Lakes,” said Meunier. “Whether we’re breaking ice in the winter, or carrying out buoy work in the warmer months, our collaboration is crucial in ensuring the safety of mariners across these inland waters. Today's signing reaffirms our commitment to working together as one team, and to our organizations’ mutual success.”