The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Revenue Cutter Bear
The Bear was a dual steam-powered sailing ship built in 1874.  She was 198 feet in length, had a displacement of 1,700 tons, and had six-inch-thick sides, which had a long life in cold and icy environments.  Bear was framed with English oak wood, had iron plating on her stern, and had wooden sheathing covering to resist puncture and compression by ice flows.  

Built in Scotland for sealing, Bear was operated out of Newfoundland for ten years.  She was then transferred to the United States Revenue Cutter Service, for which she worked the Alaskan coastline and Bering Sea.  Her duties varied and were often dangerous, and included protection of sealers and whalers, providing general police protection, and emergency operations.  Bear retired in 1926, by which time the first true icebreakers had been developed.

Photograph: “As the stricken whaling crews await aboard their vessels, the desperately needed supplies are hauled over the frozen earth by members of the Revenue Cutter Bear,” March 1898.  (Source: United States Coast Guard)