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Barnegat Class Small Seaplane Tender
311' 8" x 41' 1" x 13' 6"
2 x 5" DP gun
8 x 40mm
6 x 20mm
2 x depth charge tracks
Built by Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. Laid down May 29, 1940 as Barnegat Class Small Seaplane Tender. Launched November 15, 1941 as USS USS Mackinac sponsored by sponsored by Mrs. Ralph Wood, wife of the C. O. of NAS Seattle. Commissioned January 24, 1942 in the U. S. Navy (USN) under the command of Commander Norman R. Hitchcock.
Nicknamed "Mighty Mac". As a seaplane tender, ship had storage for supplies, spare parts, repairs, and berthing for one seaplane squadron plus 80,000 U.S. gallons of aviation fuel. After three months shakedown cruise and escorting a convoy off the west coast Mackinac departs on May 11, 1942 and arrives at Pearl Harbor eight days later.
First Pacific Tour
On May 22, 1942, the famous explorer Rear Admiral (retired) Richard E. Byrd and his staff came on board for an inspection cruise of U.S. bases in the South Pacific, debarking at Auckland on June 23 1942. She then headed to Nouméa on July 18, 1942. Byrd, because of his worldwide recognition, had been drawn out of retirement to represent the U.S. to the French colonies in the South Pacific who were nominally under the German-controlled Vichy government.
Next, \Mackinac was assigned the task of setting up a seaplane base at Takataka Bay on Malaita, begining operations on August 8, 1942 with nine plane detachment from VP-23 PBY Catalinas searching northward and westward for Japanese warships. After the US Navy defeat during the Battle of Savo Island during August 8-9, 1942, Mackinac departed for Espiritu Santo on August 12, 1942.
Departs Espiritu Santo on August 20, 1942 for the Santa Cruz Islands and arrives at Graciosa Harbor on Ndeni Island and provides tender services to support PBY Catalina operations.
Early on the morning of 12 September 1942, two Japanese submarines surfaced at the harbor entrance to shell Mackinac and USS Ballard. The two ships retaliated, but neither side suffered damage. Afterwards, returned to Espiritu Santo on October 25, 1942, assisted rescuing survivors of SS President Coolidge that had struck two mines in the harbor entrance.
On November 12, 1942, Mackinac established an advanced seaplane base at Peou Bay on Vanikolo Island in the Santa Cruz Islands, and began tending an average of six seaplanes a day. Vice Admiral William F. Halsey. Jr. visited her at this location.
Afterwards, returnred to Espiritu Santo then departed in a convoy for the United States West Coast on July 9, 1943, arriving at San Francisco on July 25 1943. She then underwent a two-month overhaul at Mare Island Navy Yard.
Second Pacific Tour
Mackinac returned to Pearl Harbor on September 28, 1943. After a month of transport duty between Midway and Maui, Mackinac left Pearl Harbor on November 20, 1943 escorting USS Curtiss (AV-4) to the Funafuti.
When a PBY Catalina flying boat was forced down near Nui in the Gilbert Islands, Mackinac, after locating it early on November 24, 1943, rescued the crew and safely towed the plane to Nuku Fetau despite adverse weather. On 1 December 1943 she arrived at recently secured Tarawa to tend seaplanes there and underwent 22 air raid until departed in January 1944.
Mackinac then departed for Makin with Patrol Bombing Squadron 72 (VPB‑72) to participate in the Marshall Islands campaign with around‑the‑clock seaplane tending. Next, Mackinac was ordered on to Kwajalein anchoring there on March 9, 1944. While her patrol bombing squadron was conducting rescue operations at Majuro, Makin, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein, Mackinac was laying out the seaplane area and assisting the construction of a naval airbase on Ebeye.
On June 23, 1944 Mackinac departed for Eniwetok en route to Saipan and under constant Japanese fire while stationed there.
Relieved at Saipan on 19 August 1944, Mackinac joined seaplane tenders USS Chandeleur (AV-10), USS Pocomoke (AV‑9), USS Yakutat (AVP‑32), and USS Onslow (AVP‑48) bound for Kossol Passage, Peleliu arriving on September 15, 1944. For the next three months, Mackinac marked navigational obstructions off Kossol before leaving for Ulithi on December 25, 1944. On 21 January 1945, Mackinac got underway with Chandeleur for Pearl Harbor then onward to San Diego arriving on 7 February 1945.
Third Pacific Tour
Returned to Saipan in April 1945. On 11 May 1945, she joined a seaplane group based at Kerama Retto during the Okinawa campaign, and continued a variety of duties, including air‑sea rescue and bombardment of Japanese‑held Rose Island. After the seaplane group moved its operations to Okinawa on 14 July 1945, Mackinac tended motor torpedo boats through early August 1945.
After the Japanese capitulation on 15 August 1945, she was assigned to join Task Group 30.5 (TG 30.5,) and arrives at Sagami Bay on August 28, 1945.
For her World War II service, Mackinac earned six battle stars.
Following occupation duty in Japan, Mackinac left for the United States West Coast on January 10, 1946, arriving at San Pedro on January 29, 1946. After repairs, she sailed for the Gulf of Mexico via the Panama Canal to Orange, Texas, arriving March 26, 1946. Decommissioned and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Orange in January 1947. Later, Mackinac was loaned to the United States Coast Guard in April 1949 and served as U. S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Mackinac (WAVP-371), later redesignated WHEC‑371. During July 1968 returned to the U. S. Navy.
On July 23, 1968 sunk as a target off Virginia.
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