A Look at the Book Entitled
An Illustrated History of a Great
and Photograph Errors in It
Victor Edward Swanson
The Hologlobe Press
Postal Box 5263
Cheboygan, Michigan 49721
(Version 5.0 for the Internet)
(March 6, 2014)
From December 1944 to June 2006, the biggest icebreaker for the United States Coast Guard on the Great Lakes was The Mackinaw (more fully known as The Mackinaw WAG-83 from December 1944 to May 1, 1966, and The Mackinaw WAGB-83 from May 1, 1966 to June 2006). The ship was decommissioned in June 2006, and at the same time, a new ship called The Mackinaw took over for the decommission ship called The Mackinaw (which will for the remainder of this document be called The Mackinaw WAGB-83 or simply The Mackinaw). In 2007, The Mackinaw WAGB-83 was officially opened up as a museum called the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum at Mackinaw City, Michigan (which is at the south end of the famous Mackinac Bridge). In 2007, I toured the museum, and in 2008, I became a volunteer guide at the museum, and when I was there, I was always on the bridge or the bridge deck or on Level 03, and I worked four years at the museum. Starting in 2008, I began to put together a document about The Mackinaw WAGB-83 so that I could have information about the ship that I could pass along to visitors, and I have yet to finish gathering information about the ship, even though I have not done volunteer work at the museum since the 2001 summer season (generally speaking, the ship museum has only been open to visitors between May and October each tourist season). So far, I have gathered about 800 photographs in digital form of the outside of the ship, covering the years from 1944 to 2006, and then I have a lot of other photographs, such as of things inside the ship, and I have compiled a roughly 300-page document (in single-space form using WordPerfect) that has information about the ship, such as statistical information about the ship and information about what jobs the ship did, some jobs of which were to rescue commercial freighters from mud banks or reefs and ice floes. While doing research on The Mackinaw WAGB-83, I was discovering that a book called USCGC MACKINAW WAGB 83: An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen, which written by Mike Fornes and published in 2005, had picture errors (most of the errors were related to dates), and at first, I only found a few errors or I could only prove a few errors, but as time when I while I was gaining information about the ship, I kept finding more errors. Today, I can prove that the book entitled USCGC MACKINAW WAGB 83: An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen has at least sixteen photograph errors. This document was put on the Internet to report on the nineteen photograph errors in the book (as known at the moment), and, at the end of this document, I have a note about a man who is talked about in the book.
This page has a photograph with caption material, and there is nothing more. It is noted on the page that the photograph is tied to 1958. That is wrong. The photograph comes from about second week of December 1957, when The Mackinaw did a last run in Lake Superior for the year. When the ship on the trip out from the Soo Locks area got to the upper part of the St. Mary’s River, the ship ran into a storm with winds up to 62 miles an hour, and the storm caused the ship to roll up to 40 degrees, and the storm went on for about a day. The Mackinaw went off to places in western Lake Superior and then returned to the Soo Locks area, escorting ships, such as the last commercial ship that would go through the Soo Locks for the season, The H.H. Wolf.
On this page is a photograph with the caption--”An early ice breaking photo, probably around 1950. Already crewmembers were enjoying walking around the ship on the ice.” Well, I found by doing a lot of research in old newspapers that the photograph comes from the winter of 1954. It comes from a time soon after the ship was given the small “w83” version on the bow. The ship had the small version of “w83” from the about 1952 to 1962, and it had the big version of “W83“ (in two main forms) from about 1962 to 1967, and around early 1968, it had only “83“ on the bow (and, after the spring-breakout time of 1968, the “slash“ format showed up on the ship).
Look at the photograph that is in the top right-hand corner of page 17. The photograph is dated “1950.” The date is incorrect. From December 1944 to May/June 1950, the icebreaker had what was called an "aft bridge" (sort of like walkways at Level 01). The "aft bridge" is missing from the photograph. So, the photograph had to be taken at some time after June 1950, and it is very likely the photograph was taken after December 1950, and since the ship seems to have a small version on "w83" on the bow, which would mean the photograph was taken at some time between 1952 and the summer of 1962.
On page 20, there are two photographs that show the tanker known as The Mercury. One photograph has the caption: “Cutting a circular path around the ore-carrier Mercury in the late 1940s.” The other photograph has no date of any type, and the caption is: “Notching up the Mercury for a tow.” The “notching” photograph shows the stern of The Mackinaw, and a person can see the helicopter landing target like those that existed on the ship in the late 1960s or early 1970s (the target like that shown in the photograph did not exist in the 1940s on The Mackinaw). A person can get the impression by seeing the two photographs on the page that the two photographs are from the same time period. Well, it is surely true one of the photographs comes from around the late 1960s or early 1970s--the one in the lower right-hand corner. By the way, the two photographs came from the same person or source, and both photographs are taken from The Mackinaw. It seems odd that the same source gave Mike Fornes two photographs of the same ship (The Mercury) from two different periods--the late 1940s and the 1960s/1970s. Is it possible both photographs come from the 1960s/1970s? I now take the discussion to a more complete level. Look at the photograph in the upper left-hand corner. It shows a portion of the starboard side of The Mackinaw. If the photograph was taken in the "late 1940s," as is reported in the book, then a person should be able to see the starboard side of the "aft bridge," which was removed in May/June 1950. The "aft bridge" is missing. That means the photograph was not taken in the late 1940s. Incidentally, I know, having seen over eight-hundred articles from newspapers, The Mackinaw helped free The Mercury several times, such as from ice at Grand Haven on January 21, 1967, and January 16, 1969.
This page shows a picture of The Mackinaw--the port side. On the fantail is a helicopter, which is a Sikorsky HO4S-1G (or a later variation of it, such as a Sikorsky HO4S-2G ), which has “S-55” as the name for the general civilian model. The type of helicopter was made by Sikorsky and was not available to Air Station Traverse City (the U.S. Coast Guard station at Traverse City) till December 8, 1951), and Air Station Traverse City had a couple units in, for example, the 1950s and early 1960s (they were replaced by HH-52A units in 1966). The photograph is dated “1950,” and that is wrong, since the helicopter that is shown in the photograph could not have been with the ship in 1950--in essence, the helicopter did not exist.
On page 23, there is a photograph that says that it shows The Mackinaw in the St. Mary’s River in 2003. The photograph is not from 2003. In 2002, a satellite telecommunications system, which was built by Nera Telecommunications (a satellite-based system), was put on the ship. Actually, for persons who look at photographs of the between 2002 and 2006 will a white dome structure on a big pedestal, which is painted black, on the flying bridge of the ship (today, that unit is gone, having been taken away around the time that the ship was decommissioned). The photograph in the book was taken before the Nera Telecommunications product was added to the ship in 2002. Today, only the black pedestal, which supported the satellite-antenna dome, exists on The Mackinaw. The photograph on page 23 was taken at some time between the spring of 1998 and the spring of 2002.
At the top-left-hand corner of page 27 is a photograph that shows the fantail of The Mackinaw. The photograph reports that the date of the photograph is 1955. The photograph is not from 1955. Notice the helicopter landing target, make up of a square, a circle, and an X. Oh, look at page 26--in 1955, The Mackinaw had no target on the fantail like that shown on page 27. Target areas for a helicopter that used a variation of a circle, a square, and an X were on the ship in roughly the late 1960s and the 1970s, such as in September 1968 (when The Mackinaw showed up at Toledo, Ohio, for the first time since the ship had been commissioned and was open for tours) and in 1976.
On the bottom of page 27 is a photograph of The Mackinaw and The S.T. Crapo, and the caption is: “A mid-1940s towing job for the Huron Cement carrier S.T. Crapo through pack ice.” In the photograph, there is a platform about a third of the way up on that mast of The Mackinaw, and that platform has a radar antenna. By the way, there is a radar antenna higher up on the mast--above the crow's nest (that telephone-booth like thing), and that radar was installed in 1946, before the other radar antenna would be installed. In the mid-1940s, there was no radar antenna or platform for a radar antenna about a third of a way up the mast. Between 1944 and 1948, The Mackinaw had the small bridge--the original bridge--and, in the photograph on page 27, The Mackinaw has the expanded bridge. Based on the information about the radar antennas and the bridge, I can report that, generally speaking, the photograph 27 is from some day between 1948 and 1952 (and probably between 1948 and 1950, based on unconfirmed information about when the bulwark was raised, which, at the moment, I think was done in May/June 1950), and I can say that, more specifically, the photograph was taken on March 16, 1949.
The photograph on this page has a problem. The caption uses “1950” as the date. In the mid-1950s, I see photographs that have a radar antenna (maybe not always the same antenna) sitting on a platform that is about a third of the way up the mast, and examples of that can be seen in the book on in the photograph on page 15, the photograph on page 22 (which I say is from the mid-1950s and not from 1950, as it is listed), a photograph on page 24 (the bottom photograph at least), the photograph on page 90, the photograph on page 97 (though this page has no date listed), and the photograph on page 122. Look closely at the photograph on page 39. You will see the ship has no platform for an antenna that is about a third of the way up the mast and you will see what looks like a mesh-like radar antenna on a pedestal standing on the flying bridge, which is what I have found in photographs related to the ship from 1962 to 1972, and you will see it on the ship in the photograph that is on page 47 (which is incorrectly dated, as I show in the next section) and in the photograph that is on page 18 in the lower left-hand corner. The picture on page 39 cannot be from 1950. Since the ship has the radar unit on the flying bridge and since the ship has the small “w83‘ on the bow, the photograph was probably taken in about 1962. For extra information, a person should look closely at the upper photograph on page 44, which has the date “1960” and which shows a platform that is about a third of the way up the mast, and then look at the photograph at the bottom of the page and see what is on the flying bridge. Incidentally, if the photograph on page 39 is from 1950, I would expect to see two lifeboats on the starboard side on a davit (there would be two more on the port side, but they cannot be seen in the photograph, though they might have been there when the photograph was taken). Also, in the late 1940s, one ready boat or two ready boats sat behind the mast or aft of the mast (as is shown in the photograph on page 38, which is not dated and which is from some time between December 1944 and December 1948).
This page has two photographs on it. The photograph in the top left-hand corner has the caption--”Mackinaw at the end of World War II.” At the end of World War II and for a couple years later, the ship had yet to be given a “W83” marking on the bow. On page 47, the ship has the big version of “W83” (one of the big versions) on the bow. In the 1950s, the ship did not have a big-form “W83” pennant; a small “w83“ form was used from 1952 to 1962. Then, if a person looks at page 83, the person will see a photograph with The Mackinaw, and the caption has: “The Mackinaw took survivors and casualties of the Cedarville from the German Ship Weissenberg.” The sinking of The Cedarville took place in 1965. Here, on page 47, the ship has a big “W83,” though it is fuzzy in the photograph. If the photograph on page 83 has the correct date, and it does, then the picture on page 47 is wrongly dated, and if the photograph on page 47 is correct, then the photograph on page 83 is wrong, which is not possible, since The Cedarville sank in May 1965. The error is with page 47. The photograph on page 47 was taken at some time between 1962 and about 1966, when the first big-form “W83” existed on the ship (a second big-form “W83”--a more rounded form--existed on the ship from about 1966 to 1967).
On the bottom-right-hand corner of page 27 is a photograph that is identified as “The famous Coast Guard ‘slash’ was added to the ship’s insignia in 1967.” Well, the “1967” note is wrong. It was in 1968 that the “slash” (with “83”) was put on the ship for the first time (though some people note it was put on in April 1967, which I report is wrong information). In addition, the word “insigia” should be “insignia.” Next, it should be stated in the book that the picture is from some time between 1990 and 1998--the ship has the 1983 version of the enclosed conning stations, and also the ship has “U.S. Coast Guard” on the hull, which was put on the ship for the first time in 1990.
Here, on this page, is a photograph that is dated “1950,” which seems to be properly dated. The problem with the photograph is the helicopter--it is a “U.S. Coast Guard” helicopter that was flown up from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to where The Mackinaw was in 1950, which was at Buffalo, New York. The helicopter is a Piasecki HRP-1 or “The Flying Banana,” and the helicopter was taking part in landing tests on the ship. By the end of 1951, the U.S. Coast Guard no longer had this model of helicopter (one crashed and two were given to the U.S. Navy). The helicopter was not an “Air Force” helicopter, as stated in the caption.
There is side information to tell. Around November 2011, a person could see a photograph of “The Flying Banana” on the fantail of The Mackinaw at the Web site related to the ninth official reunion of the ship. The photograph is marked “Detroit?”, but it should be noted as “Buffalo”. By the way, some of the types of helicopters that worked with The Mackinaw for short periods of time from the 1940s to the 1970s or so were the Bell HTL-1, the Sikorsky HO3S-1G, the Sikorsky HO4S-1G (or a later variation), and the Sikorsky HH-52A.
This page has a photograph of a helicopter. It is called an “H-52” in the caption. Really, the helicopter is a Sikorsky “HH-52A” (or what is called, as a civilian version, a Sikorsky “S-62”).
This page has in the upper area a color photograph of The Mackinaw. It is noted in the caption material that the photograph was taken in 1957. The year was not 1957. The date was January 19, 1956. The place is just off Mackinac Island--near the power plant that was on the island then, which ran on diesel fuel. A news story in the Cheboygan Daily Tribune noted that an electricity cable (a Soo-Edison line) between the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island broke down and that there was a generating plant on the island (it seems not all the electricity needed on the island could be generated throughout the winter by only the power plant). When the power plant was getting close to running out of diesel fuel, The Mackinaw was sent to the island to deliver diesel fuel for the power plant, which was pumped out of the stores of the ship, which, at the time, could carry 454,000 gallons of diesel fuel. A 500-foot-long hose from the ship was connected up with about 400 feet of pipe from the power plant, both sections of which were lying on the ice that existed, and about 14,000 gallons of diesel fuel were pumped in to the storage tanks of the power plant. By the way, the photograph on the bottom of the page has no date, but it is hinted in the book that the photograph belongs to the event incorrectly listed as 1957 in the photograph that exists above it, but, of course, the bottom photograph would have to be from January 19, 1956.
The photograph on page 107 shows the stern of The Mackinaw, and the date given is “1980“. The date is an error. In 1977, the main structure of the room additions or deck-house additions--on the sides of the towing-winch room--were put on the ship; work was done at Bay Shipbuilding and not completed (a strike that started on September 2, 1977, delayed the finishing of the additions). Notice--in the photograph--a surf boat is sitting where a room should be. For additional information, look at the photograph on page 139, which has the wrong date (as I note in a forthcoming next section), but it does have the first version of the enclosed conning stations, and you will see the room editions exist (having been built on to the sides of the towing-winch room).
Now look at page 128. Look at the color photograph in the top-left-hand corner. It has no date. I have a date, and that date is January 22, 2003. The date is information that I got from a webpage on the Internet that is tied to Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping (BoatNerd.com) and Commander Jonathan Nickerson (who at the time that the photograph was taken was the commanding officer of the icebreaker), and that webpage calls the location “Detroit.” In addition, I found a newspaper article that told me The Mackinaw was indeed at Detroit for several days around January 22, 2003. Also, a video called “USCG Mackinaw January, 2003 icebreaking on Lake Erie and Detroit River” exists on the Internet that shows what the Detroit docking area looks like. Plus, I have this photograph on page 128 as part of a group of about 50 photographs (in my digital photograph files) that were taken at the same time at--Detroit.
Now look at page 128 again. Look at the three photographs on the right side of the page, and then focus on the middle photograph. The caption for that photograph is “Approaching a lake freighter for breakout in the 1980s near Marysville, Mich.” Well, the date is wrong. If you look at the starboard side of the ship, which is showing, you will see “U.S. COAST GUARD”. Roughly, the ship was white with the red slash and had “U.S. COAST GUARD” from 1990 to June 1998 (when the icebreaker was paint red or became red with the white "slash," as it is today). In the 1980s, only “COAST GUARD” was showing on The Mackinaw. The photograph is not from the 1980s.
This page shows a photograph--in color--of The Mackinaw. The photograph is dated “1971.” The date is an error. Notice the ship has a enclosed conning station or “bridge wing” on the starboard side (up on Level 03) near the bridge--that is, it has an enclosed booth of sorts. The ship did not have enclosed conning stations--the first versions--till the mid-1970s. Notice the room additions at the sides of the towing-winch room exist (which shows evidence of why page 107 is an error). Those deck-house editions were added in 1977, and the aft cranes were removed in 1982. The photograph was taken at some time between 1977 and 1982.
The book mentions Robert Davis, calling the man a “Democrat,” but Robert Davis was a “Republican,” and that is all that I will say in this document about the text errors in the book, which has, for one, a big, big error about the first mission for The Mackinaw, which was to help move three new cargo ships from Duluth to Lake Michigan in January 1945, since this document only focuses on photograph errors.
To learn about main text errors in the book, you should see my document entitled A Look at the Book Entitled USCGC MACKINAW: An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen and the Main Text Errors in It, which can be reached by using this link: Text Errors.
Note: This document is known on the Internet as: www.hologlobepress.com/wagb83.htm.
Note: This document was first posted on the Internet on April 11, 2013.