After a 14-month service life extension project in Baltimore, the Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, an icebreaking tug, is back home in Cleveland and ready for the ice season.

Morro Bay is one of nine 140’ Bay-class icebreaking tugs built between the late 1970s and early 1980s in Tacoma, Wash. After serving the Great Lakes, New England, and mid-Atlantic regions for more than three decades, the tugs are now due for a mid-life overhaul, and Morro Bay was the first of the class to have the service completed.

Major work items included renewal of the crew’s berthing and messdeck, comprehensive navigation and steering systems upgrades, main propulsion motor overhaul, and installation of a new engine room water-mist fire fighting system and a modern small boat davit system.

Additionally, the icebreaking bubbler system located on the fantail was decommissioned, and a new bubbler system was installed in the engine room. This large diesel engine and its compressor required plenty of space, so the ship’s service diesel generators were moved to make room. The cutter was also sandblasted and painted top to bottom, stem to stern.

A particularly brutal winter in 2013/2014 brought shipping on the Great Lakes to a virtual standstill, costing millions and prompting the Lake Carriers’ Association to call for construction of a second lake icebreaker to partner with the Coast Guard’s Mackinaw to keep the shipping lanes open in the harshest of conditions.

The Coast Guard’s heavy icebreakers have made national headlines in recent weeks, with President Obama calling for accelerating the planning and construction of a new icebreaker fleet to aid in Arctic development.