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Massive ice pile-up causing big problems for ships

Strong northeasterly winds have blown huge pyramids of ice along theeastern coast of Cape Breton, making it difficult for ships to navigateunder increased pressure.

Strong northeasterly winds have blown huge pyramids of ice along the eastern coast of Cape Breton, making it difficult for ships to navigate under increased pressure.

For the last few days, Marine Atlantic passenger ferries have required the assistance of Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Louis S. St. Laurent, to escort them during regular runs across the Cabot Strait to Newfoundland.

The St. Laurent is considered Canada’s largest and most powerful icebreaker.

“Because the ice cannot go anywhere any ship ... coming in that area will encounter a lot of pressure, so it’s hard for the ship to move,” said Natacha Riendeau, Halifax ice superintendent for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Riendeau said any ferry or commercial ship that runs into an area of piled-up ice, called ridging, will be forced to stop as most don’t have enough power to push it aside.

Some of the highest ice formations can be seen in areas off New Victoria.

The largest are believed to reach as high as a one-storey house with the ice fields stretching out as far as 30 kilometres away from the Cape Breton shoreline.

 
 
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