Busy year for Port of Milwaukee ice breaker

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by Matt Doyle

MILWAUKEE -- It's been one of the busiest years for the Port of Milwaukee crew that goes out and breaks ice in the Milwaukee Harbor. You can see right here, all of this ice  that has been broken up throughout the is something they have to get and do before any ship can come through the port.

"It's been a rough winter," Harbor Seagull Captain Dan Acevedo said.   "This boat is a little over 50 years old and she's ran more this winter than she has the last two winters put together."

The brutal cold made the ice thick.  Captain Acevedo estimates in some spots it was more than a foot.

"It's like hitting a wall."

But the process takes time. Lots of time.   It was so cold some days, they'd break ice and it would refreeze in minutes.

"You slowly chip away at the edges until you have an opportunity to make it wide enough to function a coal barge and this boat within it."

It's a necessary function for Milwaukee.   Most of the activity this time of year comes from coal barges.

"The city needs coal up at that power plant. Without it, we don't have heat, electricity. We tried to get salt in earlier in order to have salt on the roads. It's not a job about pleasure cruising."

 This two-man crew has put in some 11 and 12 hour days just going back and forth breaking the ice in the port.
 

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