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Coast Guard frees two freighters stuck in ice

The Walter J. McCarthy Jr., pictured here at the Clure Public Marine Terminal in 2016, was one of two ships rescued from the frozen St. Marys River near the Soo Locks on Thursday. The other ship was the Edgar B. Speer. (News Tribune file photo)

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ships worked to free two freighters from ice in the St. Marys River below Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on Thursday.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. became stuck in ice while heading upbound toward the Soo Locks, while the Edgar B. Speer got caught in ice while heading downbound.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley helped free and clear a path for both freighters, which were on the move again by late Thursday afternoon.

The Speer left Two Harbors with a load of iron ore pellets earlier this week; the McCarthy is on its way to Two Harbors.

The two stuck ships had caused a backlog of other freighters waiting to pass through the St. Marys River, which links Lake Superior to Lake Huron. As of Thursday morning there were five vessels waiting to proceed downbound and four vessels waiting to proceed upbound on the river, the Coast Guard reported.