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Famous United States Revenue Cutter Wreck is Found off Nova Scotia

16th October 2021
U.S. Revenue Cutter, Bear Credit: Courtesy US Coastguard

After decades of searching, researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard have located the shipwreck of the former U.S. Revenue Cutter, Bear.

The wreck of the Bear, which was lost at sea in 1963, is about 90 miles south of Cape Sable in Nova Scotia.

It was considered an amazing coincidence when the wreck was one of two targets initially located during an expedition two years by the current Coastguard cutter, also named Bear and which it was decided to explore further by USCG and NOAA teams this year by the larger and better equipped USCG's ocean-going buoy tender, Sycamore, with an advanced remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with high-resolution underwater video cameras to to document the "unidentified wreck".

The team was able to collect evidence to positively identify the wreck.

Considered one of the most historically significant ships in U.S. and Coast Guard history, USRC Bear was built in Scotland in 1874 and purchased by the U.S. government in 1884.It was originally put into service by the U.S. Navy during the Arctic search for the Greely Expedition, where she earned her initial fame as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that expedition. In 1885, Bear was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic as a Revenue Cutter, where she patrolled for 41 years. After serving in the Greenland Patrols during World War II, the Bear was decommissioned in 1944 and was lost at sea while being towed to Philadelphia by a private party in 1963.

Researchers have been searching for the Bear since 1979. In 2007, a search was coordinated by the U.S. Navy but was ultimately unsuccessful. In recent years, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard have teamed up with other partners to locate the wreck site. The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service was established by Congress in 1790, operating under the Department of Treasury and later merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard.

Published in Historic Boats
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