The United States Coast Guard Cutter MACKINAW WAGB-83 was built as part of the war effort during World War II to meet the heavy demands placed on industry for an increase in production of war materials. Tremendous increases in the movement of iron ore, limestone and coal for the nation's steel mills were particularly necessary. In order to keep tonnage on the move into the winter months an icebreaker was needed. Congress authorized construction of MACKINAW on December 17, 1941, ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Funds were provided from a Special Presidential Fund used to expedite desirable projects.
MACKINAW was built in Toledo, Ohio at a cost of ten million dollars. The keel was laid on March 20th, 1943 at the Toledo Shipbuilding Company, which had won the contract. Various delays in completion involved such heavy penalties that the firm was forced into bankruptcy and the contract was taken over by the American Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company. The hull was launched March 4th, 1944 and MACKINAW was commissioned on December 30th, 1944. Cheboygan remained her home port her entire life.