USCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279)
USCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279) was a Wind-class icebreaker that was built for the United States Coast Guard. Completed in time to see action in World War II, she continued in USCG service under the same name until decommissioned in 1968.
|Operator:||U.S. Coast Guard.|
|Builder:||Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Pedro, California|
|Laid down:||23 June 1942.|
|Launched:||3 June 1944.|
|Nickname(s):||Republic of Nantucket Cutter (RONC) Ice Brother.|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 1972|
|Notes:||USCG callsign: NRFB.|
|Class and type:||Coast Guard, Auxiliary, General, (WAG). Coast Guard, Auxiliary, General, (Ice) Breaker, (WAGB).|
|Displacement:||approx 6,515 tons full load.|
|Length:||269 ft (82 m).|
|Beam:||63.5 ft (19.4 m).|
|Draft:||25.7 ft (7.8 m).|
|Ice class:||Wind class heavy icebreaker.|
|Propulsion:||2 × Westinghouse Electric DC electric motors driving the 2 aft propellers, 1 × 3,000 shp (2,200 kW) Westinghouse DC electric motor driving the detachable and seldom used bow propeller.|
Eastwind was the second of five Wind-class of icebreakers built for the United States Coast Guard. Her keel was laid down on 23 June 1942 at Western Pipe and Steel Company shipyards in San Pedro. She was launched on 6 February 1943 and commissioned on 3 June 1944.
Her hull was of unprecedented strength and structural integrity, with a relatively short length in proportion to the great power developed, a cut away forefoot, rounded bottom, and fore, aft and side heeling tanks. Diesel electric machinery was chosen for its controllability and resistance to damage.
Eastwind, along with the other Wind-class icebreakers, was heavily armed for an icebreaker due to her design being crafted during World War II. Her main battery consisted of two twin-mount 5 in (130 mm) deck guns. Her anti-aircraft weaponry consisted of three quad-mounted Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft autocannons and six Oerlikon 20 mm autocannons. She also carried six K-gun depth charge projectors and a Hedgehog as anti-submarine weapons. After the war her aft 5” mount was replaced by a helicopter deck, and by 1951 her forward mount had also been removed.
Eastwind ferried 200 US army troops which captured the last German weather station in Greenland, Edelweiss II, on 4 October 1944. She also seized the German trawler Externsteine, which was resupplying the base. Externsteine was later commissioned in the US Coast Guard as USCGC Eastbreeze and later commissioned as the US Navy ship USS Callao.
In 1952, during an Arctic Cruise, for the first time were launched stratospheric balloons from the deck of the ship. The balloon carried scientific instruments to perform cosmic ray studies and rockets to be fired once in the stratosphere (Rockoons). Captain Oliver A. Peterson, Commanding.
In 1955 and 1956 she participated in Antarctic exploration activities as part of Task Force 43 Of Operation Deep Freeze. Crossing the Antarctic Circle on December 25th, 1955, Captain Oliver A. Peterson, Commanding.
In October 1960, as part of Operation Deep Freeze, she departed Boston, passed through the Panama Canal, crossed the Pacific, visited New Zealand and McMurdo sound. Leaving Antarctica, she traveled the Indian Ocean, came through the Suez Canal, crossed the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to return home in May 1961. This tour made the Eastwind the first cutter ever to circumnavigate the globe. Two mountains in Antarctica, Mount Schmidtman and Mount Naab, were named after her captains during this period: Captain R.D. Schmidtman, USCG commanded the vessel in 1960, and Captain Joseph Naab, Jr., USCG commanded her during 1961 and 1962. In 1966 she left Boston MA in September for Operation Deep Freeze '67' returned April 1967. Captain William Benkert, Commanding.
The winter of 1968, CAPT C. William Bailey, Commanding, Eastwind entered the Great Lakes to aid with icebreaking duties, during a particularly severe ice winter. Her deep polar draft became problematic in the shallow Great Lakes, which required carrying minimal fuel (to lessen draft) and frequent refuelling. Eastwind returned to Boston Spring 1968, and replenished for Arctic East deployment
In early June 1968, Eastwind departed Boston and participated in Arctic East 1968, CAPT C. William Bailey, Commanding. After opening the shipping route to Thule AFB on July 4th, 1968, Eastwind continued oceanographic studies in the Greenland Sea and Disko Island regions. Eastwind sailed into Sondestrom Fjord to measure calving glacier outfalls. Later in Disko Bay (Bugt) a propeller shaft bearing started to separate. The shaft was clamped and the ship limped back to Boston mid-Summer 1968, on one propeller shaft, for drydock repairs in East Boston. This negated a planned liberty port call in Edinborough, Scotland. Eastwind departed Boston 3 weeks later and returned to salvage the remaining Artic-East summer navigation season in the Greenland Sea. Returning to Boston in early November, Eastwind departed Boston mid-November 1968 and travelled to the USCG Yard at Curtis Bay, Baltimore. She was Decommissioned early Dec 1968, and remained mothballed at Curtis Bay with a Caretaker Crew, until being sold for scrap.
In 1972 she was sold for scrap and last seen at the breaking yards in New Jersey in 1976 or 1977.
- Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War II. Crescent Books (Random House). 1998. p. 308. ISBN 0517-67963-9.
- Silverstone, Paul H.(1965): U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company, pg. 378
- "USCG Eastwind". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "USCG Icebreaking History". U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- Dege, Wilhelm and Barr, William (2004). War north of 80: the last German Arctic weather station of World War II. University of Calgary Press, Introduccion, p. XXX. ISBN 1-55238-110-2
- U.S. Coast Guard Firsts, Lasts and/or Record Setting Achievements
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
- http://stratocat.com.ar/bases/20e.htm Historical record of balloons launched from the USCGC Eastwind.
- US Department of Homeland Security. United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.http://www.uscg.mil/history/
- 1956 photo from archives of Life Magazine
- The Arctic Cruise of the Eastwind - 1952
- U.S. Coast Guard Cutter History, Eastwind
- The Eastwind Association