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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Atka

 

An island in the Aleutian chain.

 

(AGB-3: dp. 3,395; l. 269'; b. 64'; dr. 29'; s. 16 k.; cpl. 254; a. 1 5", 4 40mm., 8 20mm.; cl. Burton Island)

 

Southwind was laid down on 20 July 1942 at San Pedro, Calif., by the Western Pipe & Steel Co.; launched on 8 March 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ona Jones; and commissioned by the Coast Guard on 15 July 1944, Comdr. R. M. Hoyle, USCG, in command.

 

After a brief period of service along the coast of Greenland, the ice breaker was transferred to the Soviet Union under the terms of lend-lease on 25 March 1945. Renamed Admiral Makarov by the Russians, the ship operated in the Russian merchant marine for four and one-half years before the Soviet Union returned her to the United States at Yokosuka, Japan, on 28 December 1949.

 

The vessel was repaired at Yokosuka and, on 28 April 1950, renamed Atka (AGB—3). She was commissioned at Yokosuka by the United States Navy on 1 October 1950 and got underway four days later for the New England coast. 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 was placed out of commission on 31 October 1966 and transferred back to the Coast Guard, where she was redesig-nated WAGB-280. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 November 1966. The vessel resumed the name Southwind on 18 January 1967.

 

 

Atka (AGB-3) and sister ship Edisto (AGB-2), moored together at Goose Bay, Labrador, 18 June 1960, in this view taken by Photographer 1st Class Scott. (USN 1051798)