Discovery of Historic Cutter

          BEAR  (1874-1963)




U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
2703 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20593-7031

U.S. Coast Guard Museum
Coast Guard Academy - Waesche Hall
15 Mohegan Ave
New London, CT 06320-8100

Contacting us:  U.S.C.G. Historian's Office

Through over five decades of US government service, the venerable vessel BEAR was repeatedly summoned to sail through frontiers and change the course of history for those in its wake. After ten years serving as a private sealer, BEAR was purchased by the US Navy to rescue the survivors of the Adolphus Greely Expedition in 1884, and was the first vessel to locate the remainder of the famine-ravaged party. Transferred to the Revenue Cutter Service and under the command of Captain "Hell-Roaring" Mike Healy, BEAR introduced Siberian reindeer to Alaska in 1891 broadening food resources for native hunters. In 1898, BEAR rescued 265 whaling sailors stuck in the ice north of Point Barrow, Alaska, concluding the historically-overshadowed - Overland Relief Expedition. BEAR also served in both World Wars, and sailed as flagship under command of Navy Adm. Richard E. Byrd in multiple expeditions to Antarctica in between.  This widely voyaging vessel even served center stage on the silver screen adaptation of Jack London’s Sea Wolf in 1930. 

During a chilly northern Atlantic week in June 2021 aboard Coast Guard Cutter SYCAMORE, a NOAA team fortified by representatives of the CG Historian's office, concluded the collaborative 42-year search for the iconic Revenue Cutter, Coast Guard Cutter, and Naval vessel BEAR. By 1963, the screw steamer had returned to private hands for nearly two decades and was being prepared for its final mooring on the Philadelphia waterfront. While being towed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on March 19, however, the tow cable snapped letting loose the vessel in a galing storm, and it soon came to rest somewhere off the New England coast. Images taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ROV PIXEL provided the evidence positively identifying the bottom-resting wreck as the once indomitable BEAR. Lying keel-up, the aged wooden steamer exposed the tell-tale sign of its identity; the unmistakable repair work on its prow. 

As we salute the team who discovered this historic vessel, we also pay homage to the thousands of enlisted and officers that walked it's decks, making the missions and aspirations of a our nation a reality, whether bringing medical aid to pandemic-ravaged populations in remote Alaska, providing succor to victims of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1905, exploring the then-largely unknown southern continent of Antarctica in the 1930s, or rescuing stationed scientific personnel there on the eve of World War, or plying the waters of the Allies' Greenland Patrol. 

To learn more about the modern search for this historic vessel, explore the stories of the Coast Guard’s historic pride, or discover yet untold stories, please visit the links provided below. 

Emlen Tunnell's enlistment photograph
Painting Ship Fitters
Painting by Jacob Lawrence entitled Chipping the stick
Painting by Jacob Lawrence entitled Chalkers at work
USCG HH-52 "Love Ma'chine" taking off from USCGC Alert while sailing in the Yucatan Channel, in March, 1981.
USCG HH-52 "Love Ma'chine" aboard aboard USCGC Alert off Nassau, Bahamas, March, 1981.
AM2 Dave Moynihan, USCG, stands beside  his creation -- the HH-52 "Love Ma'chine" he "converted" aboard USCGC Alert off Nassau, Bahamas, March, 1981.
Chief Damage Controlman Clyde Allen's retirement ceremony in 1965.  He is former-Commandant Admiral Thad Allen's father.
"Commander Dwight Dexter, U.S. Coast Guard, is shown displaying a personally autographed flag taken from a Japanese soldier."
Photo of then-LTJG Thad Allen, circa 1973.
Several Stewards (SN) and Stewardsman (TN) standing in front of the Vice Admiral's house on Governor's Island, NY, in Spring, 1967.  From left to right: TN Tony Vintingan; SN2 Primo Pisares; SN1 Tommy Tolentino; TN Simplicio.
Several Stewards (SN) posing for a picture at the CG Yard Officer's Mess (now Berry Hall) in the early 1960s.  SN3 PISARES is second from the left.  To his right is Ben Bayany.  SNC Mendoza is in the middle.  In the back to his left is SN De Rosa.  Second from the right is SN De Castro.  SN2 Pascual is on the far right.
Rosalen H. Becker, U.S. Coast Guard veteran and trailblazer for women's equality, poses for an undated photo. At the height of World War II, Becker volunteered for the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, known as Semper Paratus Always Ready or SPARs, where she became the first woman in the radio technician rating and ultimately advanced to radio technician 2nd class. (Photo courtesy of James P. Becker)
Tony Agresta in a Coast Guard band in Charleston, N.C., marches during Victory in Europe (VE) Day, May 8, 1945. Photo courtesy of the Agresta family.
A photo of CGC ALGONQUIN breaking ice at "Tt. Liscum," Alaska, 1920.
Scan of original postcard image of CGC ALGONQUIN breaking ice along the Columbia River, dated 5 December 1919.
A daily news broadcast originates from the public information offices in district headquarters with the blast of harbor whistles providing authentic waterfront background. (USCG)
Douglas A. Munro in a portrait photograph as a civilian
Doug Munro
Nice color overhead shot of USCGC EDISTO