The Coast Guard Connection
The Coast Guard Cutter MACKINAW (WLBB 30) has been homeported in Cheboygan, MI since she was commissioned back in 2006. Although many crewmembers have come and gone since then, the special connection MACKINAW has to the city and people of Cheboygan has endured.
Every summer, Coast Guard personnel across the country (and even the world at large!) say their goodbyes, load up the family car, and execute Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. For MACKINAW that roughly translates to about 15 or 20 of our shipmates departing, only to be replaced shortly thereafter by an equal number of soon-to-be shipmates reporting aboard.
Many of you may know that MACKINAW is a unique ship. As the only cutter in the fleet propelled by Azipods (a propulsion system that can generate thrust through 360”) and as the United States’ top icebreaking asset on the Great Lakes, MACKINAW herself is a technical challenge for newly reported personnel – there just isn’t another ship like her!
With MACKINAW challenging her crewmembers professionally, it is a great comfort to know that the City of Cheboygan is a welcoming place for members and their families. One of the greatest parts of serving in the Coast Guard is the diversity of possible assignments and locations, and we welcome many crewmembers annually who have never seen snow or ice before! For welcoming our crewmembers into your community each year, and offering significant support in times of hardship, thank you!
We aboard MACKINAW look forward to continuing the growth of the relationship between the City and the Cutter, and we look forward to reopening the ship to tours and visits as new guidance is released!
Patrick J. Buell, LTJG
Asst. Operations Officer
USCGC MACKINAW (WLBB 30)
USCGC MACKINAW History
Cheboygan has been home to two Great Lakes icebreakers, the current USCGC MACKINAW (WABB 30) and the first USCGC MACKINAW (WAGB 83). The first Cutter arrived to her homeport of Cheboygan, Michigan on December 31st, 1944. She was built by the Toledo Shipbuilding Company of Toledo, Ohio.
The authorization to build the MACKINAW followed the attack on Pearl Harbor. The MACKINAW entered the war effort during WWII to keep shipping open in the Great Lakes and increase production of materials for steel, such as iron ore, limestone, and coal. At the time, the MACKINW Cutter, or “Queen of the Great Lakes” was the largest icebreaker in the world at 12,000 horsepower and nearly 300 feet long.
The first MACKINAW was decommissioned June 10, 2006 and is now the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City.