(NNCNOW.com)-- It's a sign that Spring is right around the corner--ships sifting though the icy soup of Duluth-Superior Harbor.
Monday marks the commencement of the spring ice breaking season for the US Coast Guard, an exercise vital to the Twin-Ports lucrative shipping industry.
The 225-foot US Coast Guard Cutter Alder departs from it's dock off of Park Point to plow through the ice.
The Alder can cut through 14 inches of freshwater ice at three knots.
"We're getting the Duluth-Superior harbor ready for the Lakers boarded up, waiting for the Sault Ste Marie locks to open," said Lt. Junior Grade Travis Russell with the US Coast Guard.
A balmy March morning greets close to 50 members of the Alder crew in one of an estimated 20 ice breaking ventures of 2013.
"We're essentially making it possible for them [the ships] to get underway when they need to and facilitate the multimillion dollar industry that goes in and out of Duluth," said Russell.
With colder temperatures in the winter of 2013, the thick ice means slow going for the Alder.
"It's a new experience every day," said Seaman Christine Fenzel. "We're helping the economy in some way--getting the freighters out and just making a difference every day."
Written for the web by Zach Vavricka