On an average day, the Coast Guard will conduct 109 search & rescue operations, saving 10 lives and assisting 192 people in distress. The Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival is the nation’s largest festival that honors the men and women of the US Coast Guard. It takes place July 24 – August 2 in Grand Haven and features nightly entertainment at Waterfront Stadium, arts & crafts, downtown carnival, parades, ship tours and the world’s largest musical fountain with spectacular fireworks. This year is the 85th annual occurrence of the festival which unofficially began in 1924 as a Coast Guard personnel only picnic and has grown to attract over 350,000 people including the nation’s highest ranking Coast Guard dignitaries.
The Coast Guard Cutters Bristol Bay and Mackinaw will be in Grand Haven for the festival and offering tours. The 290 feet long old Mackinaw (WAGB 83) was built in Toledo, Ohio and commissioned in December 1944 and decommissioned June 10, 2006. It is now the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City (here’s a tour of the Mackinaw).
The new US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB 30) is the only heavy icebreaker assigned to the Great Lakes. It was commissioned June 10, 2006 and is powered by 3 Caterpillar 3612 Turbocharged V-12 engines – 3360 KW each. Prolusion comes from 2 ABB azimuthing electric propulsion drives where the propulsion motor is installed inside a submerged azimuthing (unlimited 360 degrees) pod and coupled directly to an extremely short propeller shaft. In addition to heavy icebreaking, the Mackinaw has state of the art systems and multi-mission capabilities that include servicing buoys, search & rescue, law enforcement and the ability to deploy an oil skimming system to respond to oil spill situations.