USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
USCGC Mackinaw
USCGC Mackinaw
United States
NameUSCGC Mackinaw
NamesakeMackinaw City, Michigan
BuilderToledo Shipbuilding Company
Laid down20 March 1943
Launched4 March 1944
Commissioned20 December 1944[1][2]
Decommissioned10 June 2006
FateMuseum ship
General characteristics
Displacement5,252 long tons (5,336 t)
Length290 ft (88 m)
Beam74.3 ft (22.6 m)
Draft19.5 ft (5.9 m)
Speed15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
  • Diesel fuel: 276,000 U.S. gal (1,040,000 L)
  • Lubrication oil: 7,000 U.S. gal (26,000 L)
  • Potable water: 40,200 U.S. gal (152,000 L)
  • Ballast water: 121,631 U.S. gal (460,420 L)
  • Heel and trim ballast water: 345,828 U.S. gal (1,309,100 L)
Complement8 Officers, 67 Enlisted
The USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83) as seen from her permanent berth at the SS Chief Wawatam dock at Mackinaw City, Michigan, 2019

USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83) is a 290-foot (88 m) former Coast Guard icebreaker on exhibit as a museum ship at the Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City, Michigan. The vessel has been known as the "Queen of the Great Lakes" and "The Largest Icebreaker on the Great Lakes"; the site states that "she was built ... during World War II to meet the heavy demands of war materials and transportation during the winter months".[3]

Mackinaw was both commissioned and homeported during active service in Cheboygan, Michigan. Due to her age and expensive upkeep, she was decommissioned and replaced with a smaller multipurpose vessel, USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30), which was commissioned in Cheboygan the same day.

The old Mackinaw, LR number 6119534, moved under its own power on 21 June 2006 Cheboygan to a permanent berth at the SS Chief Wawatam dock on the eastern end of the old railroad dock; entry to the area is just south of the Shepler's Marine Service.[4]


The Mackinaw (WAGB-83) was laid down on 20 March 1943 at Toledo Shipbuilding Company in Toledo, Ohio, launched (sideways) on 4 March 1944, and commissioned on 20 December 1944. Due to the WWII war efforts Toledo area Male workers were at an all-time low. The shipyard opened their hiring to Toledo area Women, they initially hired 12 'helpers' within a short time and eventually hired over 100 women workers.[5] Mackinaw’s design was based on the Wind class of Coast Guard icebreakers, but the cutter was built wider and longer than the other Wind-class vessels so that her draft would be shallower. Because she was built specially for the Great Lakes — she was too wide to fit through the pre-1959 Saint Lawrence Seaway — her hull was built lighter than the Wind-class vessels, but shared many characteristics, such as a relatively short length in proportion to the great power developed, a cut-away forefoot, rounded bottom, and fore, aft and side heeling tanks. Diesel electric machinery was chosen for its controllability and resistance to damage, and she also had a bow propeller. The original blueprints of the Mackinaw called for 300 ft in length. She was built with a length of 290 ft.[6][7] For ground tackle she shipped two 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) Bower Stockless anchors with 2-inch-diameter (51 mm) links.

Service history[edit]

As museum ship[edit]

Visitor access

The museum provides educational tours and overnight stays on the vessel. Visitors can tour the mess deck, the captain's quarters, bridge, engine room, ward room, sick bay and other areas. A retail store on the vessel sells relevant products.[8]

A fee is charged to visitors but all current and former USCG personnel are admitted free upon presentation of proper identification.[9]

Amateur radio[edit]

Masts and antennae

The Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet Counties Public Service Communications Organization (CCECPSO), has established a full-time amateur radio station on board the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.[10]

The CCECPSCO has two repeaters on Mackinaw to provide communications coverage throughout the Straits of Mackinac. These repeaters, operating under the call-sign W8AGB to match the ship's WAGB-83 designation, are on a radio frequency of 145.110 MHz with 103.5 Hz PL tone and 444.375 MHz with 107.2 Hz PL tone. The organization is also actively assisting the museum with restoration and operation of various communications, navigation, and power systems. Included with the radios on board the ship are two Sunair RT-9000 HF transceivers with matching antenna couplers and vertical antennas. Scheduled for spring 2010 is the installation of a third RT-9000 paired with an LPA-9600 solid-state kilowatt amplifier and CU-9100 kilowatt autotuner along with a Sunair F-9800 automatic pre/post filter for each radio to permit simultaneous operation of all three stations, and Sunair RCU-9310 remote control panels.

The vessel is equipped with a 160-40 Meter Dipole, antenna couplers and vertical antennas linked to the two Sunair RT-9000 transceivers. The CCECPSCO group planned to add extra antennae for VHF and UHF repeater use and a KC8TU customized wire antenna.[11]

Amateur radio operators visiting Mackinaw may operate the W8AGB station whenever a CCECPSCO member is present. The CCECPSCO conducts Amateur Radio Field Day operations from Mackinaw on the fourth full weekend in June.


List of Captains[edit]

WAGB 83 had 30 skippers during her nearly 62-year career:

  • Cmdr. Edwin J. Roland 1944–46
  • Cmdr. Carl H. Stober 1946–47
  • Capt. Harold J. Doebler 1947–49
  • Capt. Carl G. Bowman 1949–50
  • Capt. Dwight H. Dexter 1950–52
  • Cmdr. Willard J. Smith 1952–54
  • Capt. Clifford R. Maclean 1954–56
  • Capt. Evor S. Kerr 1956–58
  • Capt. John P. German 1958–60
  • Capt. Joseph Howe 1960–62
  • Capt. Benjamin Chiswell, Jr. 1962–64
  • Capt. George H. Lawrence 1964–66
  • Capt. George D. Winstein 1966–68
  • Capt. Otto F. Unsinn 1968–70
  • Capt. Lilbourn A. Pharris, Jr. 1970–72
  • Capt. John H. Bruce 1972–74
  • Capt. Lawrence A. White 1974–76
  • Capt. Donald D. Garnett 1976–78
  • Capt. Gordon Hall 1978–80
  • Capt. Francis J. Honke 1980–83
  • Capt. P.R. Taylor 1983–85
  • Capt. A. H. Litteken, Jr. 1985–88
  • Lcdr. J. J. McQueeney II 1988–89
  • Capt. A. H. Litteken, Jr. 1989–89
  • Capt. R. J. Parsons 1989–92
  • Capt. C. A. Swedberg 1992–95
  • Cmdr. K. R. Colwell 1995–98
  • Cmdr. E. Sinclair 1998–2000
  • Cmdr. J. H. Nickerson 2000–03
  • Cmdr. Joseph C. McGuiness 2003–06


  1. ^ "USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-837)". Historic Naval Ships Association. 14 May 2014. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. ^ "USCGC Mackinaw - Cutter History". United States Coast Guard. 9 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. ^ Archived 2019-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Museum - Our Mission
  4. ^ Archived 2019-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Museum Info
  5. ^ personally family knowledge my mother was one of the first 12 women hired
  6. ^ "Mackinaw, 1944" (PDF). U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States Coast Guard. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  7. ^ Canney, Donald L. "Icebreakers and the U.S. Coast Guard". Historian's Office. United States Coast Guard. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  8. ^ Archived 2019-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Our Mission
  9. ^, Museum Info
  10. ^ Archived 2019-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Icebreaker Mackinaw Museum Ship - W8AGB
  11. ^, Icebreaker Mackinaw Museum Ship - W8AGB


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°46′46.90″N 84°43′11.55″W / 45.7796944°N 84.7198750°W / 45.7796944; -84.7198750