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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USS Bear (AG-29)


USS Bear (AG-29) served the US Navy, and US Coast Guard at various times

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons


Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet clasp)
Bottom Row - American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal


  • Screw Steamer, built in 1874 as the sealing vessel Bear by Alexander Stephen and Sons Ltd., Linthouse, Goven, Scotland
  • Purchased by the US Navy, 28 January 1884, at St John's Newfoundland
  • Commissioned, USS Bear, 17 March 1884, LT. W. H. Emory in command
  • Decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register in April 1885
  • Transferred to the Revenue Cutter Service (Coast Guard)
  • Sold by the Coast Guard to the City of Oakland, CA, in 1929 for use as a museum
  • Repurchased by the US Navy and commissioned, USS Bear (AG-29), 11 September 1939
  • Decommissioned, 17 May 1944
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal, 13 February 1948
  • Sold by the Maritime Commission for commercial service in 1948, renamed Arctic Sealer used as a sealer homeported at Halifax, Canada
  • Resold in 1962 for conversion to a floating museum and restaurant at Philadelphia, PA.
  • Final Disposition, foundered while under tow off Chatham, MA., 19 March 1963, on her way to Philadelphia
    Specifications:
    Displacement 751 t.(lt) 1,675 t.(fl)
    Length 190' 4"
    Beam 29' 9"
    Draft 12'
    Complement 51
    Armament 3 x 6-pound rapid fire guns (1885)
    Propulsion
    one compound-expansion steam engine, 25 5/8" and 50" diameter x 30" stroke, 101 nominal hp (1885)

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    USRC / USCGC Bear
    Bear 21k Oil on canvas of USCGC Bear by Hunter Wood .
    US Coast Guard Historian's Office
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 49k Port side view of USRC Bear anchored at Sitka, Territory of Alaska, circa 1890s. Tommy Trampp
    Bear 114k USRC Bear under way, probably soon after joining the Revenue Service in 1885. Tommy Trampp
    Bear 88k USRC Bear jammed in the ice off Point Barrow, August 1898. Photo by F.D. Fujiwara. Robert Hurst
    Bear 41k USRC Bear on Bering Sea patrol, date unknown.
    Photo source - Hazy Gray & Underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 73k USRC Bear working through the Bering Sea ice to rescue a trapped ship.
    Photo source - Hazy Gray & Underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 80k USRC Bear moored at Oakland, CA., during her off-season, date unknown.
    Photo source - Hazy Gray & Underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 149k USCGC Bear at anchor circa, late 19th century-early 20th century. The ship became famous for her long service in Alaskan waters, where she made 34 cruises and carried out numerous other missions between 1886 and 1926.
    US Navy photo from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command, courtesy Shipscribe.com.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 83k Native American whalers and their families rescued by USCGC Bear off the Alaskan coast during a relief voyage in 1891. Tommy Trampp
    Bear 398k USCGC Bear in the Arctic ice, circa 1910.
    US Coast Guard photo by Corvino, no photo number.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 399k USCGC Bear in the Arctic ice, date unknown.
    US Coast Guard photo, no photo number.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 320k USCGC Bear in port, date and location unknown.
    US Coast Guard photo, no photo number.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 723k USCGC Bear in Arctic ice, date unknown. Note the crewmen at the end of the ships' bowsprit.
    US Coast Guard photo, no photo number.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 110k USCGC Bear and SS Corwin in the roadstead, Nome, Alaska shortly after their arrival on
    1 June 1914 Library of Congress # LC-H61-6165
    Mike Green
    Bear 86k USCGC Bear and SS Corwin, in the roadstead, Nome, Alaska shortly after their arrival, 1 June 1914. Photo by Lomex Brothers. Robert Hurst
    Bear 96k USCGC Bear in Emma Harbor, Siberia, July 1921, providing transport for C&GS officer J. T. Watkins to carry out magnetic survey work
    NOAA photo from the US Coast Guard Historian's Office
    Robert Hurst
    Bear of Oakland
    Bear 81k Ex-USCGC Bear in service as SS Bear of Oakland sails from Boston in the snow, 12 November 1930, enroute to the Antarctic to joint the Byrd Expedition.
    Acme photo.
    Tommy Trampp
    Bear 54k City of Oakland museum ship SS Bear of Oakland playing the part of Death Larsens' sealing ship "Macedonia" for the 1930 movie "The Sea Wolf". Filming probably took place during Bear's years as a museum ship at Oakland, CA.
    Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 39k SS Bear of Oakland in drydock at Newport News, October 1933. Bear of Oakland underwent emergency repairs following storm damage suffered off Diamond Shoals. At the time she was en route from Boston to New Zealand for her first Antarctic mission. Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway. Robert Hurst
    Bear 93k SS Bear of Oakland in pack ice during her Antarctic expedition of January 1934.
    Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 74k
    Bear 113k SS Bear of Oakland under way around the time of her Antarctic expedition of January 1934.
    Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 99k SS Bear of Oakland transferring cargo at the Little America Antarctic base, January 1934.
    Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 58k Rear Adm. Richard Byrds' ship Bear of Oakland moored at Pier 2, Boston Navy Yard, circa 1935. On the opposite side of the pier is the floating workshop YR-15.
    US Navy photo, Boston National Historical Park Collection, NPS Cat. No. BOSTS-10391
    Stephen P. Carlson, Preservation Specialist, Boston NHP, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA
    Bear 295k The Navy provided courtesy storage for Adm. Byrd for items from his Antarctic expeditions. This view shows some of the materials stored in Building 34 of the Boston Navy Yard on 27 March 1936. Some of the material remained in storage for nearly four decades, as Navy Yard records following its 1974 closure contain letters to Byrd's heirs asking them to remove the items.
    (US Navy photo, Boston National Historical Park Collection, NPS Cat. No. BOSTS-9341
    Stephen P. Carlson, Preservation Specialist, Boston NHP, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA
    Bear 137k Bear of Oakland brings RADM.Richard Byrd to the Washington Navy Yard, 13 May 1935.
    Library of Congress, Photo No. LC-H2-B-7921
    Mike Green
    USS Bear (AG-29)
    Bear 158k USS Bear at Brooklyn Navy Yard, preparing for the Greely rescue mission, April 1884.
    Photo courtesy Haze Gray & underway.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 135k USS Bear at Godhaven Harbour, Greenland, in May 1884 while serving in the Navy as part of the Greely Relief Expedition. Bear and the former whaling ship USS Thetis rescued the seven survivors of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, including Lieutenant Greely, and brought them back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in August 1884.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 1609, coutesy Shipscribe.com.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 96k USS Bear and Lieutenant Greely. Tommy Trampp
    Bear 255k USS Bear enters Antarctic waters in 1939, during operations with the U.S. Antarctic Service.
    US Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, Photo No.1985.131.035.
    Mike Green
    Bear 488k USS Bear in Antarctic waters during operations with the U.S. Antarctic Service, circa 1939 and 1940. Note the aircraft on the ship.
    US Navy photo courtesy the US Navy and Marine Corps Museum/Naval Aviation Museum, photo No. 1985.131.036.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 42k USS Bear (AG-29) in the ice during the 1939-1940 Antarctic Expedition (22 November 1939-5 June 1940).
    US Navy photos, courtesy of Hazegray & Underway
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 54k
    Bear 64k USS Bear (AG-29) nearly obscured by ice, during her final Antarctic Voyage. (10 October 1940-18 May 1941).
    US Navy photo, courtesy of Hazegray & Underway
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 142k USS Bear (AG-29) at West Base, Antarctica, 10 January 1941. She is receiving her first mail from home in twelve months. The dog team and its driver are waiting for another load of letters. Note the full barquentine rig that she carried on this expedition, which ended in May 1941. The relatively short smokestack is evidence of the diesel propulsion that the ship received between 1935 and 1939. The ship received an aircraft platform aft of the mainmast in 1939 but the aircraft is not embarked in this view.
    US Navy photo # NR&L(M) 25715 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command.
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 83k USS BEAR (AG-29) moored at Pier 3, Boston Navy Yard, in June or July 1941 following her modification for service on the Greenland patrol.
    US Navy photo, Boston National Historical Park Collection, NPS Cat. No. BOSTS-10392
    Stephen P. Carlson, Preservation Specialist, Boston NHP, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA
    Bear
    19-N-24310
    76k USS Bear (AG-29) near Boston Navy Yard, 2 July 1941. Her sailing rig, topmasts and, bowsprit have been removed. Note the J2F-1 seaplane on the platform aft of the mainmast., US Navy Bureau of Ships photos now in the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command. Robert Hurst
    Bear
    19-N-24309
    98k
    Bear 95k USS Bear (AG-29) entered Boston harbor, Tuesday, 14 October 1941, with the captured German ship, Busko of Norwegian registry. The sixty-ton fishing trawler was used by the Nazis to set up a secret radio station in Greenland. USS Bear captured the trawler with her crew and took the prize in tow returning to Boston. The crew was turned over to the immigration service. The Busko is shown in this Associated Press photo in the foreground while behind her is Bear with personnel of the Nazi vessel standing on deck. Tommy Trampp
    Bear 101k USS Bear (AG-29) near the Boston Navy Yard, 16 February 1943. The ship was refitted in 1942 for operation by the Navy on the Northeast Greenland Patrol. Her mizzen mast and aircraft were among the items removed.
    US Navy photos from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Joe Radigan MACM USN Ret. and Robert Hurst
    Bear 126k
    Bear 59k USS Bear (AG-29) at anchor, date and location unknown. Note the seaplane on her aft deck.
    US Navy photo
    Robert Hurst
    Bear 98k USS Bear (AG-29) leaving Boston harbor for service with the Northeast Greenland Patrol, date unknown.
    US Navy photo, courtesy of Hazegray & Underway
    Robert Hurst
    Merchant Service
    Bear 862k SS Arctic Bear [ex-Bear (AG-39)] her towline parted and foremast collapsed, begins her final journey down to the sea as the tug Irving Birch stands by helpless to save her. Bear sank at 8:15 P.M., Tuesday, 19 March 1963, 90 miles south of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, 260 miles east of Boston.
    US Coast Guard photo # 1CGD-03-19-63(03).
    Robert Hurst

    USS Bear (AG-29)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    USN Commanding Officers
    01LT. Emory, William Hemsley28 January 1894 - ?
     Decommissioned/StruckApril 1895 - 11 September 1939
     LCDR. Cruzen, Richard Harold11 September 1939 - ?
     LCDR. Hinckley Jr., Robert Messinger1942 - February 1943
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Office of the Coast Guard Historian - Bear 1885
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 20 March 2015