USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) is a vessel built as a heavy icebreaker for operations on the North American Great Lakes
for the United States Coast Guard. She should not be confused with a namesake ship, the USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83), which was decommissioned on June 10, 2006.
Mackinaw was delivered to the Coast Guard on November 18, 2005 and commissioned on June 10, 2006. In addition to her ice-breaking duties, the Mackinaw will also serve as an Aids to Navigation
ship, able to perform the same duties as the Seagoing Buoy Tenders (WLB) of the Coast Guard fleet.
One of the Mackinaws unique features in the US Coast Guard fleet is the use of azipods for her main propulsion
. These, coupled with a bow thruster, makes the ship exceptionally maneuverable. Azipods also negate the need for a traditional rudder
, as the azipods can turn 360 degrees on their axis to direct their thrust in any direction. The Mackinaw also lacks a traditional ship's steering wheel
. Much of the ship's technology, including the azipod thrusters is from Finnish Maritime Cluster.
The Mackinaw got off to a rocky start before being commissioned. In an unfortunate mishap, the Mackinaw struck a seawall in Grand Haven, Michigan while enroute to her new home port of Cheboygan, MI on December 12, 2005 while being piloted by the XO, LCDR Nathan A. Podoll. The accident
caused a dent in the bow of the Mackinaw on her starboard side. Shortly after the accident
Donald Triner, the commanding officer of the Mackinaw, was temporarily relieved of duty pending an investigation into the accident. The accident did not delay the ship's scheduled arrival in her new home port. She arrived on December 17, 2005. Captain Triner was later permanently relieved of duty and replaced by Captain Michael Hudson
, who was replaced in turn by Cmdr. John Little in April 2006. Most recently Cmdr. Scott J. Smith assumed command in July 2008.