This site features images and videos detailing the operations of the legendary U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw, WAGB-83.

The images, video and text that follow date from 2002 and 2003, and were part of an article that appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Great Laker Magazine.

Stepping onto the deck of the Mackinaw, one was impressed by the sheer size and condition of the ship. The Mackinaw was growing old gracefully. A deep sense of crew pride – and lots of hard work – kept the vessel in tip-top condition. Painted surfaces appeared to carry the original paint; older machinery on deck and below looked like new.

The Mighty Mac’s long hitch in the U.S. Coast Guard ended in 2006 when a replacement icebreaker took up station. The Mackinaw was retired and is open as a museum ship in Mackinaw City, Mich.

It’s not that the Mackinaw was no longer capable. It was that her aging machinery required a large crew and lots of maintenance. She was built for one thing only – breaking ice, a job she was required to perform for only a few months out of the year.

Thank you to Commander Jon Nickerson for arranging this in-depth look at the Mackinaw and icebreaking operations by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thanks also to the officers and crew of the Mackinaw for their hospitality and kindness on the trip. 

Click here to share you memories and pictures of the USCG Mackinaw