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A weekly look at life on the Great Lakes, in 90 seconds or less, from IPR News.

Maritime Time: The U.S. Coast Guard on the Great Lakes

Aircraft from the 9th District of The. U.S. Coast Guard in Traverse City, Oct 14, 2021. (Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)
An helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, in Sault Ste. Marie, on Oct. 14, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)

Over the weekend, a 689-foot freighter hit an unknown object near Isle Royale in Lake Superior and began taking on water.

That got us thinking about the folks who rush to the aid of ships in distress on the Great Lakes.

An update provided by the 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes on June 8, 2024. Pictured is the Michipicoten. (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes)
The Michipicoten is pictured in an update provided by the 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes on June 8, 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes)

Our friends at WCMU Public Radio report that no one was injured. Half of the crew was evacuated as others navigated the vessel to Thunder Bay, Ontario, successfully.

The U.S Coast Guard responded from Traverse City and Duluth, Minnesota, by air and sea to monitor the situation.

The Guard has had some sort of presence in the Great Lakes since the early 19th century.

It started with as U.S. Lighthouse and Lifesaving Service in 1812. It was the first of four agencies that would eventually make up the Coast Guard on the Great Lakes.

As the network grew and shipwrecks were on the rise, these stations were tasked with lifesaving services.

But back then, a lack of funding and disorganization resulted in haphazard rescues. So the U.S. Treasury decided to dedicate more support to the effort via funding, training and 60 lifesaving stations across the five Great Lakes by 1900.

The service’s first motorized lifeboat was deployed in Marquette and soon went into use nationwide.

What we now call The Coast Guard was established in 1915.

Ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes would start in the 1930s. And the Ninth District put its first Air Station in Traverse City in 1946 with a fixed wing aircraft followed by helicopters.

Tyler Thompson is the Morning Edition host and reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.