CHICAGO (CBS) — The Commander acknowledges there’s some irony in the name: Biscayne Bay, for a Coast Guard ice breaker which is moored at Navy Pier.

Commander Thomas Przybyla says he brought the 140 foot long ice breaker south to help a 700 foot ore carrier into an Indiana Harbor where northerly winds had piled ice up 6 feet thick.

The ice breaker is football shaped so it won’t get wedged between ice floes.

“We also have an air lubrication system so we have an engine that runs an air compressor that forces air through the bottom of the ship and that creates bubbles all around it,” said Przybyla.

The Biscayne Bay is usually based in Saint Ignace, Michigan, but will be working the south end of Lake Michigan at least through Wednesday.

Przybyla says the Biscayne Bay draws 12 feet of water and has a 2,500 horse power electric motor.

He says for ice up to two feet thick, he can just power right through it. However ice three feet thick will stop the ice breaker, at least temporarily.

“We’ll back up a little ways. We don’t get going quite to full speed but we will hit it at 10 knots or so, 10 miles an hour, and we will back and ram, that is a technique we use,” said Przybyla.

Lt. Przybyla says the Biscayne Bay will leave Navy Pier to head back to Indiana and help a tug and barge through the ice.

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