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Mackinac II (AVP‑13)


The first Mackinac retained her Coast Guard name. The second was named for an island in northern Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac, the word "mackinac" being derived from the Ojibwa Native American word michilimackinac meaning "island of the great turtle."


(AVP‑13: displacement 2,592 (light); length 311'8"; beam 41'1"; draft 13'6" (limiting); speed 18.2 knots; complement 215; armament 2 5-inch, 4 1.1-inch, 8 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks; class Barnegat)

The second Mackinac (AVP‑13) was laid down on 29 May 1940 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; launched on 15 November 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Ralph Wood, wife of the commanding officer, Naval Air Station. Seattle, Wash.; and commissioned on 24 January 1942, Cmdr. Norman R. Hitchcock in command.

After three months of trial runs, Mackinac, escorting a large convoy, sailed for Pearl Harbor on 11 May 1942, arriving on 19 May. On 22 May famous explorer Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd (Ret.) and his staff came on board for an inspection cruise of U.S. bases in the South Pacific, debarking at Auckland, New Zealand, on 23 June. The seaplane tender then headed to Noumea, New Caledonia, on 18 July.

With preparations underway for the Guadalcanal‑Tulagi landing  (Operation Watchtower) 7 to 9 August 1942, Mackinac was assigned the task of setting up a seaplane base at Malaita, the most advanced post of the campaign, while her PBYs searched the sealane between Truk and Guadalcanal. One of the first ships to anchor in the Solomon Islands, Mackinac retired to Espiritu Santo on 12 August.

Despite constant evacuation alerts and numerous searchplane losses, Mackinac next set up a base at Graciosa Harbor, Santo Cruz, on 20 August 1942. Early on the morning of 12 September, two submarines surfaced at the harbor entrance to shell Mackinac and Ballard (AVD‑10), together with their planes. The tenders retaliated; but no damage occurred for either side.

Following her return to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on 25 October 1942, Mackinac assisted with her boats in rescuing survivors of President Coolidge after the Army troop transport had struck two U.S. mines in the harbor entrance.

On 12 November 1942 "Mighty Mac" established an advanced seaplane base at Vanikoro Island, Santa Cruz, and began tending an average of six planes a day. Several high-ranking officers visited her during this duty, including Vice Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr. 

Mackinac got underway from Espiritu Santo with a convoy for the west coast on 9 July 1943, arriving at San Francisco on 25 July for overhaul. The tender returned to Pearl Harbor on 28 September. After a month of transport duty between Midway and Maui, Hawaii, Mackinac left Pearl Harbor with Curtiss  (AV-4) on 20 November for the Ellice Islands.

When a PBY was forced down near Nui, Gilbert Islands, Mackinac, after locating it early on 24 November 1943, rescued the crew and safely towed the plane to Nuku Fetau despite adverse weather. On 1 December she arrived at recently secured Tarawa to tend planes there through January 1944, despite some 22 air raids.

Mackinac then steamed for Makin with VPB‑72 (Navy medium patrol bomber squadron 72) to participate in the Marshalls campaign with around‑the‑clock seaplane tending. With the strategic atolls of Majuro and Kwajalein secured by the early part of February 1944, the ship was ordered on to Kwajalein, anchoring on 9 March. While her squadron was conducting rescue operations at Majuro, Makin, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein, she was laying out the seaplane area and assisting the construction of a naval airbase on Ebeye Kwajalein.

On 23 June 1944, Mackinac departed for Eniwetok en route to Saipan. As the conquest of Saipan was still in the assault stage, Mackinac was under almost constant fire while stationed there.

Relieved on 19 August 1944, Mackinac joined the large seaplane tenders Chandeleur (AV-10) and Pocomoke (AV‑9), and the small seaplane tenders Yakutat (AVP‑32) and Onslow (AVP‑48) in sailing for Kossol Passage, Peleliu, Palau Islands, arriving one day after D‑Day, 15 September. For the next three months Mackinac marked navigational obstructions off Kossol before leaving for Ulithi on Christmas Day, 25 December. On 21 January 1945 Mackinac got underway with Chandeleur for San Diego via Pearl Harbor, arriving 7 February. The ship returned to Saipan in April.

On 11 May 1945 Mackinac joined a seaplane group based at Kerama Rhetto, Ryukyu Islands, during the Okinawa operations, and continued a variety of duties, including air‑sea rescue and bombardment of Japanese‑held Rose Island. After the group moved operations to Okinawa on 14 July "Mighty Mac" tended motor torpedo boats through early August. After the Japanese capitulation on 15 August, she was assigned to join TG 30.5, arriving in Sagami Bay, Tokyo, Japan, on 28 August.

Following occupation duty, Mackinac left for the west coast on 10 January 1946, arriving San Pedro, Calif.,  on 29 January. After repairs, she sailed for the Atlantic via the Panama Canal, arriving at Orange, Texas, on 26 March. Mackinac was decommissioned and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Orange, Texas, in January 1947.

She was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard in April 1949 and served as Mackinac (WHEC‑371), classified as a high endurance cutter, until decommissioned on 28 December 1967. Returned to the Navy on 21 July 1968 and simultaneously stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, she was utilized as a target to destruction, coming under the combined gunfire of heavy cruiser Newport News (CA-148), the guided-missile light cruiser Springfield (CLG-7), the guided missile destroyer John King (DDG-3) (which scored a direct hit with a Terrier missile), and the destroyer New (DD-818) on 23 July 1968 off the coast of Virginia. 

Mackinac received six battle stars for her World War Il service.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

17 April 2024

Published: Wed Apr 17 18:44:57 EDT 2024