USCGC Westwind (WAGB-281)

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USCGC Westwind near Cape Atholl, Greenland, returning from artic cruise (1964).
USCGC Westwind near Cape Atholl, Greenland.
Career (United States) 100x35px
Builder: Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Pedro, California
Laid down: 24 August 1942
Launched: 31 March 1943
Sponsored by: Mrs. Stanley V. Parker [2]
Commissioned: 18 September 1944
Notes: Designed by Gibbs & Cox of New York [3]
Career (Soviet Union) 100x35px
Name: Severniy Polyus (Russian: Северный Полюс, “North Pole”)
Acquired: 21 February 1945
Notes: Lend-Lease. Some Russian identification labels and plaques remained on ship's equipment after being returned to U.S. service.[4]
Career (United States) 100x35px
Acquired: 19 December 1951
Decommissioned: 29 February 1988 [5]
Honours and
Antarctica Service Medal [6]
Fate: Believed to have been sold for scrap.
General characteristics
Class and type: Wind-class icebreaker
Displacement: 6,515 long tons (6,620 t) full load
Length: 269 ft (82 m)
Beam: 63 ft 6 in (19.35 m)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric:
6 × Fairbanks-Morse 8-1/8OP, 10-cylinder opposed piston engines. (1944)
4 × Enterprise / deLaval engines. (1975)
2 × 5,000 shp (3,700 kW) Westinghouse DC electric motors driving the 2 aft propellers, 1 × 3,000 shp (2,200 kW) Westinghouse DC electric motor driving the bow propeller.
Speed: 15.5 kn (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph)
Range: 16,000 nmi (30,000 km; 18,000 mi) at 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) as designed [7]
16,000 nmi (30,000 km; 18,000 mi) at 10–12 kn (19– 22 km/h, 12–14 mph) as built
Capacity: Approximately 450,000 U.S. gal (Template:Convert/L) diesel fuel
Complement: World War II authorized: 316 (21 officers, 295 enlisted)[8]
WWII 1944: 350
Postwar (USA): 175 (13 officers, 2 Warrant Officers, 160 enlisted.
Armament: Main: 4 × Mark 12 DP 5"/38 caliber guns on two twin mounts (1 fore, 1 aft)
Anti-air: 12 × Bofors 40 mm guns on three quadrule mounts, 6 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons on single mounts.
Anti-sub: 1 × Hedgehog projector, 2 × stern mounted depth charge racks.

USCGC Westwind (WAGB-281) was a United States Coast Guard Wind-class icebreaker.

Ship's history

  • 1942 - 24 August: Keel laid at Western Pipe & Steel, San Pedro, CA, USA
  • 1943 - 31 March: Launched at San Pedro, CA, USA
  • 1944 - 18 September: Commissioned.
  • 1945 - 21 February: Transferred to Soviet Union and renamed Severni Polius (North Pole, Russian: Северный Полюс). [9][10]
  • 1951 - 19 December: Returned to the United States Coast Guard. [11][12]
  • 1952 - 22 September: Recommissioned as Westwind after refit from Soviet service. [13]
  • 1954 - 30 September: Participated in 121 day Arctic cruise, returned to New York Harbor, Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • 1956 - "Westwind engaged in DEWLINE support Operations in the Arctic. [1]
  • 1957 - "Westwind" engaged in DEWLINE support Operations in the Arctic.
  • 1962 - SUNEC '62 - Hull Stress Tests Conducted for design of future Icebreakers
  • 1964 - Westwind arrives in area of United States Coast Guard LORAN Station Cape Atholl, Greenland.
  • 1964 - 18 August: Returned from Arctic cruise. [14]
  • 1974 - Began extensive refit to strengthen bow, replace engines, change propeller shafts, and received new "Icebreaker Red" paint scheme.[15]
  • 1975 - Continued extensive refit.[16]
  • 1976 - Homeport: Milwaukee, WI. - Summer North Trip - Arctic Circle, Via - St. John's Newfoundland,Thence to Thule, Greenland for summer breakouts.
  • 1977 - Homeport: Milwaukee, WI. - Winter Breakouts, Great Lakes - Ran Aground, Seven Foot Shoals, near entrance to St. Mary's River, Lake Huron.
  • 1984 - Westwind sustains major hull damage in the Weddell Sea on a Deep Freeze cruise. 6-foot (1.8 m) tall, 140-foot (43 m) long tear in the hull that was temporarily patched by the crew until repaired in South America. [17]
  • 1986 - Funding cuts reducing operating funds for icebreakers ends plans to refit Westwind. [18]
  • 1988 - 28 February: Decommissioned.[19]


The exact date that Westwind was transferred to the Soviet Union under the Lend-lease program depends on which source you choose to believe. The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS) lists Westwind's date of transfer as 21 February 1945 [20], while the United States Coast Guard's history site is ambiguous, stating only that Westwind was transferred in 1945.[21] A crew museum website lists the transfer date as Thanksgiving day 1945.[22] At this time it seems most prudent to use the DANFS date until other sources can be found to verify the Thanksgiving transfer date.

It is believed that the final disposition of the Westwind was sale for scrap based on a former crewman's report [23]. The crewman, transferred to the USCGC Polar Sea returning from Antarctica in 1988, saw the Westwind and the CCG Labrador moored to a pier in Honolulu. The two dead ships were enroute to Far Eastern shipscrappers when the consort tugboat broke down.

A request made to the United States Coast Guard yielded a response implying that Westwind has been preserved as a museum ship by the USCGC Westwind Polar Icebreaker Museum group[24]. That response seems to conflict with the group's own information stating that they are a repository for crew messages and images preserved for the purpose of remembering the Westwind and her many crew members. Given the lack of evidence for Westwind having been preserved it is probably safe to assume that Westwind was sold for scrap.


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