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USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83)
USCGCMackinaw 3
USCGC Mackinaw.
Career (United States) Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Builder: American Ship Building & Drydock Company
Laid down: 20 March 1943
Launched: 4 March 1944
Commissioned: 20 December 1944[1][2]
Decommissioned: 10 June 2006
General characteristics
Displacement: 5,252 long tons (5,336 t)
Length: 290 ft (88 m)
Beam: 74.3 ft (22.6 m)
Draft: 19.5 ft (5.9 m)
Propulsion: 6 × Fairbanks-Morse 10-cylinder diesel engines, total 10,000 shp (7,500 kW)
Three propellers
Speed: 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Capacity: 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)
Complement: 8 Officers, 67 Enlisted
Notes: Two 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) Bower Stockless anchors with 2-inch-diameter (51 mm) links.

USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83) was a 290-foot (88 m) vessel specifically designed for ice breaking duties on the Great Lakes. LR number: 6119534

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

In 2002 the crew of this cutter painted and refurbished the Fourteen Foot Shoal Light.[3]

The old Mackinaw moved under its own power on June 21, 2006 from the port of its decommissioning to a permanent berth at the SS Chief Wawatam dock at the ship's namesake port, Mackinaw City, Michigan where she now serves as a museum ship known as Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.


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 Welland Canal) her hull was built lighter than the Winds, 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 controlability and resistance to damage, and she also had a detachable bow propeller. She was laid down on 20 March 1943 at American Ship Building & Drydock Company in Toledo, Ohio, launched (sideways) on 4 March 1944, and commissioned on 20 December 1944.[4][5]

Amateur RadioEdit

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

The CCECPSCO has two repeaters on the 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 145.110 with 103.5 PL and 444.375 with 107.2 PL. 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.

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

List of CaptainsEdit

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
  • Capt. J. J. McQueeny 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.
  2. A Brief History on MACKINAW (WAGB-83) and MACKINAW (WLBB-30)
  3. Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Michigan's Eastern Lower Peninsula". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  4. "USCG Mackinaw". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  5. "USCG Icebreakers". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 45°46′46.90″N 84°43′11.55″W / 45.779694°N 84.719875°W / 45.779694; -84.719875

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