On July 20, 1942 a keel was laid in the shipyards of the Western Pipe and Iron Works of Los Angeles, California for another ice breaker of the Coast Guard's Eastwind class. On March 8, 1943 Mrs. Ona Jones christened the rapidly developing hull as the US Coast Guard cutter South Wind and on July 19, 1944 she was commissioned and proudly got underway as the ultimate in modern icebreaker design.
Her period of service with the US Coast Guard was short-lived, however, as of March 25, 1945 less than one year later, she was transferred to the Foreign Representatives of the U.S.S.R. as a loan in the Lend-Lease Program. The soviets renamed her the Admiral Makarov and she operated in their merchant marine for a period of four and one half years. Finally, on December 27, 1947, the American Naval authorities at Yokosuka, Japan were persented with the somewhat bedraggled Admiral Makarov.
To meet the growing demand for US Naval shipping to supply our Artic bases the icebreaker was awarded to the Navy and accordingly a handful of officers and men reported aboard her at Yokosuka in the summer of 1950 to take her home. On October1, 1950 after two months of emergency repair work accomplished largely by Japanese workmen, she was commissioned in the US Navy as USS ATKA (AGB-3) and 3 days later she departed for the United States. ATKA is named after a small island in the Aleutian chain. The following summer, upon completion of an extensive overhaul and modernization in the Boston Naval Shipyard, she took her place as an active unit of the US Atlantic Fleet and has completed two summer and one winter Arctic cruises since that time.
ATKA is 269 feet in length, 64 feet in beam, displaces 6500 tons when fully loaded, and has a 29-foot draft. Two stern and one-bow screws driven electrically by 6 Fairbanks Morse 10 cylinder opposed piston diesel engines and associate 1 generators propel her. Her 3 direct driving shaft motors provide a total of 10,000 horsepower astern and armamant consists of one 5-inch caliber dual-purpose gun and four 40MM and eight 20MM antiaircraft machine guns. Her 1 and 5/8 inch armored steel sides protect her from ice damage, her outboard bulkheads and weather decks are insulated internally with a layer of 5 inch and 4 inch cork respectively, and her bow is especially designed to break rather than to cleave ice.
In plain words she is designed for work in the ice.