Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
  USS Mackinac AVP-13
Barnegat Class Small Seaplane Tender

2,592 Tons
311' 8" x 41' 1" x 13' 6"
2 x 5" DP gun
8 x 40mm
6 x 20mm
2 x depth charge tracks

Click For Enlargement
USN 1942

Sinking History
Laid down on May 29, 1940 at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. Launched on November 15, 1941. Commissioned on January 24, 1942 with Commander Norman R. Hitchcock in command. Nicknamed "Mighty Mac" and received six battle stars for World War Il service.

The ship had storage for: supplies, spare parts, repairs, and berthing for one seaplane squadronm plus 80,000 U.S. gallons of aviation fuel.

Wartime History
After three months of shakedown, Mackinac, escorting a large convoy, departed the United States West Coast for Pearl Harbor on May 11, 1942, arriving on May 19, 1942.

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.

Departing Espiritu Santo for the Santa Cruz Islands on August 20, 1942. Arrived at Graciosa Harbor on Ndeni Island and began PBY Catalina operations and tending.

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 through January 1944, undergoing 22 air raids during her time there.

Mackinac then steamed 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 23 June 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, arriving at Sagami Bay, Tokyo, Japan, on August 28, 1945.

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 Coast Guard cutter USCGC Mackinac (WAVP-371), later WHEC‑371.

Sinking History
On July 23, 1968, she was returned to the Navy and sunk as a target off Virginia.

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
August 4, 2020


Photo Archive

  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram