USCGC BEAR (WMEC 901) is a 270-foot, medium endurance cutter homeported in one of America’s Coast Guard cities, Portsmouth, Virginia!
BEAR has served the American public diligently since its commissioning in 1983. BEAR and its crew have shown tireless devotion to duty and service to nation, with over 65 operational deployments, numerous major drug seizures, and countless search and rescue operations, including combing over 1,900 square nautical miles of ocean in response to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
USCGC BEAR takes its name from Revenue Cutter BEAR, which was commissioned in 1874. The original BEAR served in both World Wars, and became the first American law enforcement presence in newly purchased Alaska, making history by leading the famous “Overland Expedition” to rescue whalers trapped at Barrow Point.
Today, BEAR’s crew continues to pay respect to their namesake’s historic legacy by protecting America’s borders, marine resources, and citizens.
Emblazoned throughout the cutter is BEAR’s crest, inspired both by its historic past and its present duties.
The ship's namesake, a polar bear, denotes both the formidable tenacity with which the cutter pursues its missions of search and rescue and law enforcement, and the operation area of the first BEAR (AG-29), which served over 40 years in Alaskan and North Atlantic waters.
The bear's collar represents power under control, a reference to the ship's command and control, and defense systems. The loose chain stands for freedom.
The fasces with trident symbolizes broad law enforcement through an aggressive patrol presence and successful interdictions. It recalls the conservation of fisheries and other living marine resources for future generations, the protection of our boarders from illegal alien migration and the interdiction of drugs and other contraband. The open hand represents search and rescue operations and the award of the Humanitarian Service Medal in recognition of these services. Special operations achievements are also recalled.
The laurel wreath symbolizes further awards of honors, including multiple Coast Guard Unit Commendation awards and Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation awards. It also denotes honorable service of the first BEAR (AG-29) and the highest standards of continued devotion to duty of the modern USCGC BEAR (WMEC 901).
Surrounding the shield, the bipartite scroll reads “SUMMA POTENTIA PER FACILITATEM,” meaning – “Greater Strength Through Versatility.” This motto emphasizes BEAR’s multi-mission ability.