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USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280)
USCGC Southwind near USCG Base Berkley
USCGC Southwind in December 1970
Career (USCG) US flag 48 stars.svg Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC Southwind (WAG-280)
Builder: Western Pipe and Steel Company
Cost: $9,880,037.00
Yard number: CG-98
Laid down: 20 July 1942
Launched: 8 March 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. Ona Jones
Commissioned: 15 July 1944 (USCG)
Decommissioned: 23 March 1945 (USCG)
Fate: transferred to USSR on 25 March 1945
Career (USSR) Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union (1950–1991).svg
Name: Admiral Makarov
Namesake: Stepan Makarov
Acquired: 25 March 1945
Fate: Returned to the United States, on 28 December 1949
Career (USN) US flag 48 stars.svg
Name: USS Atka (AGB-3)
Namesake: Atka Island
Acquired: 28 December 1949
Commissioned: 13 April 1950
Decommissioned: 31 October 1966
Fate: Transferred back to USCG, 31 October 1966
Struck: 1 November 1966
Career (USCG) Flag of the United States.svg Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Name: USCGC Southwind (WAG-280)
Acquired: 31 October 1966
Recommissioned: 31 October 1966
Decommissioned: 31 May 1974
Fate: Sold for scrap on 17 March 1976
Notes: Ships callsign: NRFC

USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) was a Wind-class icebreaker that served in the United States Coast Guard as USCGC Southwind (WAG-280), the Soviet Navy as the Admiral Makarov, the United States Navy as USS Atka (AGB-3) and again in the U.S. Coast Guard as USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280).


Southwind was the 3rd of the Wind-class of icebreakers operated by the United States Coast Guard. Her keel was laid on 20 July 1942 at the Western Pipe and Steel Company shipyards in San Pedro, California, she was christened by Mrs. Ona Jones and launched on 8 March 1943, and commissioned on 15 July 1944.[1][2][3][4][5]

Her hull was of unprecedented strength and structural integrity, with 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.[6]

Southwind, along with the other Wind-class icebreakers, was heavily armed for an icebreaker due to her design being crafted during World War II. Her main battery consisted of two twin-mount 5 in (130 mm) deck guns. Her anti-aircraft weaponry consisted of three quad-mounted Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft autocannons[2] and six Oerlikon 20 mm autocannons. She also carried six K-gun depth charge projectors and a Hedgehog as anti-submarine weapons. After her return from Soviet service she had a single 5”38 cal. mount forward and a helicopter deck aft. In 1968 the forward mount was removed.[3][5]

First U.S. Coast Guard serviceEdit

On 15 July 1944, she was commissioned as USCGC Southwind (WAG-280).

After service on the Greenland Patrol, and assisting USCGC Eastwind in capturing the German trawler Externsteine, Southwind was transferred to the Soviet Union on 23 or 25 March 1945 as part of the Lend-Lease Program.

Soviet serviceEdit

The ship served in the Soviet merchant marine under the name Admiral Makarov (Russian: Адмирал Макаров, named in honor of Stepan Makarov) until being returned to the U.S. Navy on 28 December 1949 at Yokosuka Japan.

U.S. Navy serviceEdit

In 1950 the ship was returned to the U.S. Navy and rechristened as USS Atka (AGB-3), after the small Aleutian island of Atka. Upon her arrival at Boston, Atka entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for a thorough overhaul and modernization. The work was completed late in May 1951, and Atka began operations from Boston, Massachusetts in July 1951.

Throughout her career in the American navy, the icebreaker followed a routine established by the changing seasons. In the late spring, she would set sail for either the northern or southern polar regions to resupply American and Canadian air bases and weather and radar stations. In early fall, she would return to Boston for upkeep and repairs. In the winter, the ship would sail various routes in the North Atlantic Ocean to gather weather data before returning to Boston in early spring for repairs and preparation for her annual polar expedition.

The ship often carried civilian scientists who plotted data on ocean currents and ocean water characteristics. They also assembled hydrographic data on the poorly charted polar regions. Atka was also involved in numerous tests of cold weather equipment and survival techniques.

She served in the Atlantic fleet and completed three Arctic tours.

Second U.S. Coast Guard serviceEdit

On 31 October 1966 she was transferred the United States Coast Guard and christened again as USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280), changed homeport to the United States Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay, Baltimore, Maryland.

After a shakedown cruise to Bermuda she proceeded on its first operational cruise north to Thule, Greenland.

She deployed to the Arctic in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973, as well as to the Antarctic in December 1967, December 1968 and January 1972. In 1968 she was involved in a diplomatic incident between Chile and Argentine about navigation rights in the Beagle channel.[7]

In September 1970, Southwind visited the port of Murmansk, being the first U.S. naval vessel to visit a Soviet port since the start of the cold war. During that visit, she took aboard a boilerplate (BP-1227) from the Apollo program. The boilerplate had been lost in the North Sea in early 1970, recovered by a Soviet fishing trawler in the Bay of Biscay, transferred to the Soviet Union, and passed to Southwind on Saturday, September 5, 1970.[8][9]

Southwind was decommissioned on 31 May 1974, and sold for scrap on 17 March 1976 for $231,079.00 to Union Mineral & Alloy Corporation of New York.


  1. Preston, Antony (1998) [1989]. Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II. Crescent Books. p. 308. ISBN 0517-67963-9. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Silverstone, Paul H (1966). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday. p. 378. OCLC 36309625. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "USCGC Southwind, 1944". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  4. "Atka". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. United States Navy. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280)". Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  6. Canney, Donald L. "Icebreakers and the U.S. Coast Guard". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  7. Struthers, David Robert, Capt (22 November 1985). The Beagle Channel Dispute between Argentina and Chile: An Historical Analysis (M.Sc. thesis). Defense Technical Information Center. p. 71. OCLC 620986981. ADA163393. 
  8. Wade, Mark (2002). "Soviets Recovered an Apollo Capsule!". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  9. (Russian) "Потерянная капсула NASA найдена в Мурманске". 

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