USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280)

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The USS Atka (then USCG Southwind) on July 15, 1944.
The USS Atka (then USCG Southwind) on 15 July 1944.
Career 100x35px
Builder: Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Pedro, California
Laid down: 20 July 1942
Launched: 8 March 1943
Commissioned: 15 July 1944 as USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280)
Decommissioned: 25 March 1945
Renamed: Admiral Makarov (1945-50), USS Atka (1950-66), USCGC Southwind (1966-76)
Fate: Decommissioned
General characteristics
Displacement: approx 6,500 tons full load
Length: 269 ft (82 m)
Beam: 63.8 ft (19.4 m)
Draught: 25.75 ft (7.85 m)
Propulsion: 3 shaft Diesel Electric drive (1 bow), 13,300 shp (9,920 kW)
Speed: 16
Complement: 254
Armament: 4x 5" in twin mounts, 12x40 mm in quad mounts
Aircraft carried: 1 Grumman J2F Seaplane

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

First US Coast Guard Service

Construction began on 20 July 1942 in the Western Pipe and Steel Company shipyards in San Pedro, California, and she was launched on 8 March 1943 by Mrs Ona Jones. On 15 July 1944, she was commissioned as USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280).

After seeing service on the Greenland Patrol, and assisting the 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 Service

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

US Navy Service

In 1950 she was returned to the US Navy and rechristened as Atka, after a small Aleutian island of Atka. Upon her arrival at Boston, Atka entered the naval shipyard there for a thorough overhaul and modernization. The work was completed late in May 1951, and Atka began operations from Boston in July.

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 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 US Coast Guard Service

On 31 October 1966 she was transferred the US Coast Guard and christened again as USCGC Southwind, changed homeport to Baltimore (Curtis Bay), MD.

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 1971, Southwind visited the port of Murmansk, being the first US military 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 has been lost in the North Sea in early 1970, recovered by a Hungarian vessel, transferred to the Soviet Union, and passed to the Southwind in September 1970.[1]

Cultural references

A picture of USS Atka was used as the front cover art for Rammstein's album Rosenrot, and the Japanese version of their album Reise, Reise.


  1. Mark Wade (2008). "Soviets Recovered an Apollo Capsule!". Astronautix. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links

da:USS Atka ru:Адмирал Макаров (ледокол, 1945—1949) sv:USS Atka (AGB-3)