Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw painting by Lloyd Desy Mackinaw by Lloyd Desy    from the collection of Emma & Lester Stokes
United States Coast Guard Cutter

The 290 feet long old Mackinaw  (WAGB 83) was built in Toledo, Ohio and commissioned in December, 1944. It was joined by the new Mackinaw (WLBB 30) in October 2005 and decommissioned June 10, 2006. Now it is the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum

Tour of the Mackinaw
October 24, 2005

Mackinaw at start of Chicago to Mackinac race
Mackinaw is surrounded by sailboats as the 330 mile, 2003 Chicago to Mackinac race begins - courtesy of USCG

Old Mackinaw (WAGB 83)
Old Mackinaw (WAGB 83) freshly painted for decommissioning ceremony in Cheboygan
River on June 10, 2006. On June 21, a skeleton Coast Guard crew sailed the Mackinaw to her final mooring
at the former Chief Wawatam railroad dock in downtown Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Ice breaker Mackinaw at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Mooring in Cheboygan, Michigan
USCGC Mackinaw at the Millard D. Olds Memorial Mooring in Cheboygan, Michigan - November 23, 2001

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

USCGC Mackinaw
New Mackinaw

USCGC Mackinaw
New Mackinaw tour

Launch of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw
Mackinaw launch

USCGC Mackinaw
Biscayne Bay
ice breaking tug

Mackinac Bridge Home Page
Mackinac Bridge

Straits Lighthouses

Mackinac Island pictures
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

3 minute video of Mackinaw underway - courtesy of United States Coast Guard

Length: 290 feet
Beam: 74' 4"
Speed: 18.7 knots
Power Plant: Six diesel engines with electric drive, three shafts (one forward, two aft), 10,000 bhp.

Ice breaking Capability: Three feet at three knots

aerial view of Mackinaw through light fog
more Straits of Mackinac aerial pictures
Mackinac Bridge and Coast Guard Citter Mackinaw
The cutter Mackinaw passes under the Mackinac Bridge

Construction of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was started on March 20, 1943 by the Toledo Shipbuilding Company. The company went into bankruptcy during construction and the American Shipbuilding & Dry-dock Company completed the Mackinaw and launched it on March 4, 1944 at a cost of $10,000,000. The Mackinaw was been stationed in Cheboygan, Michigan from its commissioning on December 30, 1944. 

When first commissioned, the Mackinaw was the most powerful  icebreaker in the world. At the conclusion of her career, the Mackinaw was still the largest United States Coast Guard Cutter assigned to the Great Lakes and set the standards by which other icebreakers are measured. The Mackinaw is the only "Mackinaw" class icebreaker which was built and its design borrows from the "Wind" class. 

Mackinaw cutting through ice
Mackinaw leading freighter Edgar B. Speer down the St. Mary's River on January 22, 2004 - courtesy of USCG

Icebreaker Mackinaw on the St. Mary's River
Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw on the St. Mary's River in the late 1990s. Photo courtesy of BM1 Mark A. Faught,
Station Supervisor at Station (sm) Washington Island. He is in the orange suit at left.

At full load the Mackinaw displaced 5,252.4 tons and drew 19' 2.25" of water. Her innovative features included a 12 foot diameter bow propeller which draws water from beneath the ice ahead, both weakening the ice and sending water along the sides of the hull and reducing ice friction. The Mackinaw also has a heeling system which can shift nearly 112,000 gallons of ballast water from side to side in 90 seconds, allowing a rocking motion which assists the Mackinaw in freeing itself from ice.

The Mackinaw had a compliment of 8 officers and 67 elicited men and women. The last members of the ship's compliment will left the Mackinaw at on June 30, 2006, turning the Mackinaw over to Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum (IMMM).

Why "WAGB?"   The "W" has been applied to all Coast Guard ships since W.W.II. During the war, to avoid problems that could arise from a Navy and Coast Guard ship having the same number on their bows, a "W" was painted before the number to signify the ship as a Coast Guard ship. The "AGB" is for Arctic Glacier Breaker. The Polar Rollers (Polar Star, Polar Sea) and Healy are also WAGB's.  The "AGB" is for Arctic Glacier Breaker. The Polar Rollers (Polar Star, Polar Sea) and Healy are also WAGB's. 

Mackinaw life boat

sun over the Mackinaw
"Guardian of the Great Lakes"

Unless otherwise noted - all photos copyright 2001-2021 by Keith Stokes. . My home page