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. 

A Georgian forklift driver drives toward a pallet of humanitarian assistance supplies being crane lifted from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas.
Local Georgians gather to welcome the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas. Dallas arrived with more than 76,000 pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies to be given to the people of Georgia.
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas and the guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul transit through the Black Sea
U.S. Coast Guard personnel load supplies aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008.
Rear Adm. Joe Leidig, deputy commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, addresses the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas about their mission to transport humanitarian relief supplies to the Republic of Georgia following the conflict between Russian and Georgian forces.
The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, a 378-foot High Endurance Cutter home ported in Alameda, Calif., bids farewell to the China coast guard
Marilyn Melendez Dykman, the first minority female pilot in the Coast Guard. (U.S. Coast Guard)
Portrait of Commodore Frederick De Otte, USCG (Ret.).
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)
ODESA, Ukraine (May 10, 2021) The command of Legend-class cutter USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) and Ukrainian dignitaries hold a press conference on the pier in Odesa, Ukraine, May 10, 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 photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sydney Phoenix)
Photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins 
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet        

GULF OF OMAN (February 26, 2022) From the left, U.S. Coast Guard Fast response cutters Glen Harris (WPC 1144), Wrangel (WPB 1332), Emlen Tunnel (WPC 1145), and Maui (WPB 1304), transit in formation in the Gulf of Oman, Feb. 26. The four ships are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Deandre Dawkins)
A digital photo provided by LCDR Peter A. Bizzaro, USCG, of the USCG RAID Team office in Afghanistan.
CBM Victor Mature, USCGR
CBM Victor Mature, USCGR
CBM Victor Mature, USCGR
Cesar Romero, USCGR
Cesar Romero, USCGR
Cesar Romero, USCGR
Victor Mature, USCGR