Call Sign: NRFB
Builder: Western Pipe & Steel Co., San Pedro, CA
Builder's Number: CG-97
Length: 269' oa
Beam: 63' 6" mb
Draft: 25' 9" max
Displacement: 6,515 tons (1945)
Keel Laid: 23 June 1942
Launched: 6 February 1943
Commissioned: 3 June 1944
Decommissioned: 13 December 1968
Propulsion: 6 Fairbanks Morse 10-cylinder diesels driving 6 Westinghouse DC generators which in turn drove 3 electric motors; 12,000 SHP; two propellers aft; one propeller forward.
Top speed: 13.4 knots (1967)
Economic speed: 11.6 knots; 32,485 mile range.
Complement: 12 officers, 2 warrants, 205 men (1967)
Radar: SPS-10B; SPS-53A; SPS-6C (1967)
Sonar: QCJ-8 (1945)
Armament: 4 x 5"/38s (in two twin mount gun turrets); 12 x 40mm/60 (in three quad mounts); 6 x 20mm/80 (single mounts); 2 x depth charge racks; 6 x "K" guns; 1 x Hedgehog (1945); none (1967)
The "Wind" Class final design--modeled after the Swedish icebreaker Ymer--was prepared by Gibbs & Cox of New York after initial design work by LCDR Edward Thiele, USCG (later the Coast Guard's Engineer-in-Chief) who had obtained details of foreign icebreakers while vacationing in Europe before the war. The Wind- class of icebreakers measured 269 feet in length, 63’6” in beam and displaced 6,500 tons. The Coast Guard contracted for five vessels of the class in November 1941 to fulfill the need to access military bases in Greenland that would be inaccessible during most of the year without the use of heavy icebreakers. Eventually, the Coast Guard operated seven Wind- class icebreakers.
The design of the vessels included a bow propeller used to clear the hull from ice and dredge broken ice forward. The bow propeller was not typically used as a means for propulsion unless the vessel needed to back out of surrounding ice. The vessels also had a diesel electric power-plant, the most compact, economical, and powerful propulsion system available at the time. Additionally, while the diesels provide the power supply, there was a division between these diesels and the motors, which supplied power to the shafts. The rotating electric motors could handle the shocks and extreme power- to- speed ratios necessary for ice operations.
The close spaced frames and careful design of the trusses and planting, along with the thick, welded hull plating made the hulls of the Wind- class unprecedented in strength and structural integrity. The hull also had compressed cork insulation, strengthened steering apparatus, and a padded notch at the stern to nestle the bow of any vessel being towed through ice. Also the design included fore, aft, and side heeling tanks with pumps to aid in water movement within the vessel to rock the ship free from ice build up. The specifications for construction were so extensive that the Western Pipe and Steel Company of Los Angeles was the only builder to submit a bid. They were originally designed to be equipped with a fixed wing amphibious aircraft.
World War II
USS Eastwind, CG was launched on 6 February 1943 from the Western Pipe & Steel Company's shipbuilding yard in San Pedro, California. She was commissioned on 3 June 1944 under the command of Captain C. W. Thomas, USCG. She was assigned to CINCLANT and was stationed at Boston, MA and operated in Greenland waters. Along with her sister-ship Southwind, she operated against teams of German scientists and military personnel who attempted to establish weather stations in remote areas of Greenland. On 4 October 1944 Eastwind captured a German weather station on Little Koldewey Island and 12 German personnel. On 15 October 1944 Eastwind captured the German trawler Externsteine and took 17 prisoners. The trawler was renamed East Breeze and a prize crew sailed her to Boston.
After the war, her homeport remained Boston where she served out of for the remainder of her Coast Guard career. From 1946 through 1947 she made four trips to Greenland supplying bases there. On 19 January 1949 she collided with the tanker Gulfstream off New Jersey, killing 13 crewmen and severely damaging the cutter. From July to September 1950 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. From June to August 1951 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. From May to September 1952 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. From December 1954 to January 1955 Eastwind re-supplied Narsarssuak AFB, Greenland. From June to September 1955 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. From November 1955 to March 1956 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic. From May to November 1958 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. On 9 February 1959 Eastwind freed the icebound MSTS Chattahoochee and Eltanin off Newfoundland. From November 1959 to March 1960 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic.
Eastwind made history when she became the first cutter to ever circumnavigate the globe in 1960-61. She departed Boston on 25 October 1960, transited the Panama Canal, crossed the Pacific Ocean, visited New Zealand and then participated in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. She sailed home via the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and arrived back at Boston in May, 1961.
From September 1961 to March 1962 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic. From November 1963 to March 1964 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic. From November 1964 to April 1965 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic. From June to August 1965 Eastwind re-supplied Arctic bases. From November 1965to April 1966 Eastwind participated in Operation Deep Freeze to the Antarctic. In March 1966 the ship's helicopter detached to aid in flood relief in Argentina. On 7 February 1967 Eastwind rescued the Danish Antarctic supply ships Nella Dan and Thala Dan from heavy ice 40 miles off Budd Coast of Antarctica. Nella Dan had been trapped for one month and Thala Dan for two weeks.
During March and April 1968 Eastwind broke ice on the Great Lakes as part of a project to extend navigational season on the lakes. From 18 July to 8 August 1968 Eastwind conducted oceanographic survey along west coast of Greenland. From August to November 1968 Eastwind participated in the MSTS re-supply cruise to the Arctic.
USCGC Eastwind during World War II
USCGC Eastwind being converted to peacetime use
USCGC Eastwind on fire after the collision with the tanker Gulfstream
USCGC Eastwind lists to starboard after the collision
Fire damage on USCGC Eastwind after the collision
USCGC Eastwind--4 December 1951
USCGC Eastwind circles the broken tanker Fort Mercer--19 February 1952
USCGC Eastwind--11 November 1955
USCGC Eastwind in heavy seas- no date
USCGC Eastwind off Greenland in 1957
USCGC Eastwind returning to Boston from the Antarctic--27 May 1961
USCGC Eastwind in the Antarctic--1963
USCGC Eastwind's Flight Deck--19 November 1963
USCGC Eastwind--22 September 1966
Captain C. William Bailey's Oral History (Eastwind's last commanding officer)
Arthur H. Bleich. USCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279): First Icebreaker Around the World. Boston: Burdette and Co., 1961.
Warren D. Bonner. The Tale of the "Mighty 'E'astwind": USCGC Icebreaker W279; 1943 to 1968; A Biography From WWII, North Atlantic Campaign, Arctica & Antarctica. Orange, CA: By the Author, 2004. (A former crewman of the CGC Eastwind wrote this full-length history of his beloved icebreaker; Jack's Joint has posted a pdf copy of the book at: www.jacksjoint.com/eastwind-bonner.PDF)
Eastwind Cutter File, Coast Guard Historian's Office.
Price, Scott. "Arctic Combat: The Capture of the German Naval Auxiliary Extersteine by the Coast Guard Icebreakers Eastwind & Southwind in Greenland, 1944.
________. "Masters of the Ice: The Capture of the Externsteine." Sea Classics (Jul 1995), pp. 44-51, 61-62.
Robert Scheina. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981.
Robert Scheina. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft, 1946-1990. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990.
Captain Charles W. Thomas. Ice Is Where You Find It. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1951.