NOAA, US Coast Guard locate revenue cutter lost at sea in 1963

The revenue cutter Bear in the Arctic (Photo: US Coast Guard/NOAA)

A team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Coast Guard has located the wreckage of a US Revenue cutter that was lost at sea in 1963.

At a recent press conference in Boston, the two agencies announced that they have found the wreck of the revenue cutter Bear about 90 miles (144 kilometres) south of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.

The discovery is the latest development in a nearly-two-decades-long effort to locate the ship and identify the reasons for its loss.

Purchased by the US government in 1884, Bear was initially put into service by the US Navy as part of the rescue fleet for the Greely Expedition to the Arctic in 1884, and first came to world-wide acclaim as the vessel that rescued the few survivors of that expedition.

The ship was transferred from the Treasury Department for service in the Arctic in 1885 as a revenue cutter. It then patrolled the Arctic for the next 41 years.

After its coast guard service, Bear was sold to a business owner who planned to turn it into a museum and restaurant on the Philadelphia waterfront. However, the ship was lost at sea while it was being towed to its new berth.

In 2019, a team from NOAA Ocean Exploration and NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program, working off the US Coast Guard medium-endurance cutter Bear (named for the earlier Bear), mapped 62 square miles (160 square kilometres) of seabed and found two targets for further exploration.

Coast guard and NOAA researchers returned to sea earlier this year on the coast guard’s ocean-going buoy tender Sycamore, this time with an advanced remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with high-resolution underwater video cameras.

Though the operational conditions encountered at the site were challenging, the team was able to collect enough video and still images sufficient to provide the documentation needed to identify the wreck.

See all the other news, reviews and features of this month’s Maritime Security Week right here.

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