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. 

USCGC Taney tied up at Pier 4 in Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii, circa 1940
Front cover of U.S. Coast Guard Magazine, December, 1940 (Volume 14, #2); image credited as "Socony - Vacuum 'Compass' Illustration & artist listed as "Ruse".
Commissaryman Robert Manges in his dress blues on leave from the Coast Guard. (Courtesy of Robert Manges)
The US Coast Guard Makes History! 
Adm. Linda Fagan presents to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation during her Confirmation Hearing, on Thursday, 28 April. The first time in US history a woman sits in nomination to lead a US Military Service.
A portrait photo of PA2 John Guzman, USCG, in 1986.
Officers & crew of Coast Guard Destroyer BEALE
A picture of future-Commandant then-Lieutenant Russell R. Waesche, Sr.
USCG Destroyer Beale, CG-9
Lt. Buddy Ebsen on stage hosting the 7th War Loan bond drive in Seattle. (U.S. Coast Guard)
A aerial view of the USS LAFAYETTE (ex- SS NORMANDIE) burning in New York City while the passenger liner was undergoing conversion to a troopship.
1935 RADM H. G. Hamlet at CGC CAMPBELL construction site
Drawing of USRC Vigilant
B&W photo-scan of a photo in Joseph Jenkins scrapbook of his service with the USCG in World War II.  This is a photo of a painting by Combat Artist Jacob Lawrence entitled "Decommissioning" of USS SEA CLOUD, which both served aboard during the war
Scan of photo captioned as: "In ceremonies on 27 September 1987, at United States Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth H. Dole, Secretary of Transportation, and Admiral Paul A. Yost, Commandant, commissioned pennants for the Island Class Patrol Boats 1317-1337. Presented to Commanding Officer, USCGC CUTTYHUNK upon your departure from New Orleans, Louisiana."
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Cushing stands at parade rest during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, March 8, 2017. The Cushing was built primarily as a platform for law enforcement, but conducted missions including maritime homeland security, migrant interdiction, fisheries enforcement and search and rescue. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala)
(Aug. 18, 2007) SHANGHAI, China - A boarding team, from the U.S. Coast Guard 378-foot High Endurance Cutter Boutwell, demonstrates along with the Chinese Coast Guard their specific boarding techniques and procedures on Saturday here. The crew from the Boutwell is representing the U.S. Coast Guard here and other foreign ports to help increase international maritime security and safety in the Northern Pacific Ocean and it's borders as part of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jonathan R. Cilley)
210508-G-G0108-1190 BLACK SEA (May 8, 2021) U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753) and a Ukrainian coast guard vessel conduct underway maneuvers in the Black Sea, May 8, 2021. Hamilton is on a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national interests and security in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)
CGC Hamilton conducts training exercise with Ukrainian Coast Guard.
Crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas man the rails as they pull into their homeport of Charleston Oct. 7, 2008.