Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay
breaks ice for freighters navigating the St. Marys River. U.S.
Coast Guard photo by Petty Of¿cer William B. Mitchell.
The 9th Coast Guard District (D9) is expansive and unique.
It shares a maritime border of roughly 1,500 miles with
Canada, and its area of responsibility encompasses the
federal navigable waters of the Great Lakes states and
connecting waterways, including portions of the St.
Lawrence Seaway, Illinois River, Lake Winnebago, New
York State Barge Canal, and various tributaries.
D9 personnel carry out a variety of missions within its
area of responsibility including search and rescue (SAR),
maritime safety and security, environmental protection,
maritime law enforcement, aids to navigation, and ice
breaking. In winter, when the Great Lakes and tributaries freeze, D9 personnel engage in SAR operations
on the ice and domestic ice breaking missions to free up
shipping lanes and harbors for commercial vessel trafc.
To support ice rescue operations, D9 runs the Ice
Capabilities Center of Excellence at Station/Aids to
Navigation Team Saginaw River in Essexville, Mich.
Coast Guard personnel and partner state and local frst
responders attend the school to learn about the fundamentals of ice rescue. It is the only U.S. Coast Guard
training center dedicated to ice rescue.
Additionally, to address domestic ice breaking operations, the district maintains a feet of harbor tugs and
buoy tenders with ice breaking capability, including the
queen of the feet, the USCGC Mackinaw, the only U.S.
heavy ice breaker assigned to the Great Lakes.
D9 leverages these authorities through memoranda of
understanding or agreements with partnering state
agencies in Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania
for maritime safety and security zone enforcement.
Besides strengthening partnerships, these agreements
multiply available enforcement assets including hard
water resources like airboats and snowmobiles. They
also provide availability to state and local personnel
who have greater familiarity with law enforcement
involving vehicular and pedestrian trafÀc.
In support of the January 18, 2012, rescue exercise, the
COTP of Sector Lake Michigan established a safety
zone surrounding the exercise area to protect the
people who regularly traverse the ice. Personnel and
assets from many agencies enforced the zone.
Coordinating with state and local partners assured
effective safety zone enforcement and will continue
to do so in D9's area of responsibility.
About the author:
LT Terrence M. Thornburgh is a judge advocate in the 9th Coast
Guard District legal ofÀce. Prior to this assignment, he deployed in
support of Operation Deepwater Horizon as a pollution response
coordinator in Mobile, Ala., and later as a claims adjudicator at the
National Pollution Funds Center in Arlington, Va.
1. 33 C.F.R. § 2.24(a) deÀnes U.S. internal waters as waters shoreward of the
territorial sea baseline.
2. For the purposes of this article, exclusionary zones refer to safety and
security zones as deÀned in 33. C.F.R. §§ 6.01-05, 165.20, and 165.30. Exclusionary zones are established through the rulemaking process. For a
detailed explanation of this process, refer to The Coast Guard Rulemaking
Process article by Roger Butturini in Proceedings of the Marine Safety and
Security Council, Spring 2010.
3. Safety zones promulgated for environmental reasons are limited in scope.
The PWSA authorizes safety zones to control vessel movement within a
waterway to avoid collisions, allisions, and groundings that may result
in damage or pollution to the marine environment. It does not, however,
authorize a safety zone to be established solely to protect marine protected species unless there is a nexus to navigational safety.
4. These prohibitions are taken from 33 C.F.R. § 165.23 for safety zones.
Security zone prohibitions in 33 C.F.R. § 165.33 are generally consistent,
but also permit the COTP to take possession or control any vessel in the
security zone and deny any person from boarding or taking any article
or thing onboard a vessel or waterfront facility within the security zone.
5. 46 U.S.C. 70118.
For More Information:
to assist in the enforcement of security zones issued
under that part. Additional regulations authorize state
and local law enforcement ofÀcers who have authority to enforce state criminal laws to make arrests for
certain exclusionary zone violations — provided the
violation is a felony, and the ofÀcer has reasonable
grounds to believe the person has committed the violation.5
Winter 2012 | Spring 2013
The Great Lakes Maritime Strategy
frames the district commander's intent
and guiding principles, mission ethos,
and strategic objectives for the 9th Coast
Guard District. It is available at www.