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Coast Guard Polar, Arctic & Other Ice Operations

Including the operations in the Bering Sea,
Greenland & International Ice Patrols &
domestic icebreaking

A photo of the Northwind on the Northwest Passage escort of SS Manhattan


General Information:

United States Coast Guard Arctic Strategy. Washington, DC: USCG, May, 2013.

Coast Guard Expeditions, Polar & Ice Operations and the International Ice Patrol: Historical Bibliography  

Coast Guard Ice Operations: Description & Summary

Historical Chronology of Polar & Ice Operations

"The U.S. Coast Guard in the Arctic and the Sub Arctic," a history by RADM Edward H. "Iceberg" Smith, USCG, 1949

A History of Coast Guard Ice Operations: A Power Point Presentation

Operation Taconite Overview



Alaska & Arctic Operations: A Historic Photograph Gallery

The Coast Guard in Alaska & Hawaii: A Short History

Search and rescue case regarding the grounding of the Sailing Vessel Paramita near Unimak Pass in 1914.  Cutters Unalga and Tahoma responded to the wreck of the Paramita and mutiny by the sailing vessel's passengers and crew.  Provided courtesy of Dr. R. Montague Whiting.

The Cruise of the Corwin, a book by John Muir, published in 1917.  Provided courtesy of Google Books (pdf).

The Overland Expedition-Rescue to Point Barrow, Alaska, 1897-1898 (a narrative history)

"Track Chart of Cruise of U.S. Rev. Steamer 'Bear' and Overland Expedition to the Relief of Whalers in Arctic Ocean.  November 29, 1897 to September 13, 1898."  [pdf] [jpg]

The Official Report of The Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear and the Overland Expedition for the Relief of the Whalers in the Arctic Ocean, From November 27, 1897, to September 13, 1898. Provided courtesy of Google Books (pdf).

A Photo Gallery for Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf & the Overland Expedition.

1899: Report of the Operations of the U.S. Revenue Steamer Nunivak on the Yukon River Station, Alaska, 1899-1901 by First Lieutenant J. C. Cantwell, R.C.S., Commanding.  Provided courtesy of Google Books (pdf).

1903: Senate Report on the Introduction of Domestic Reindeer into Alaska, by Sheldon Jackson, LL.D. provided courtesy of Google Books (pdf).

U. S. Coast Guard, Public Information Division. The Coast Guard at War: Alaska. Vol. III. Washington, DC: US Coast Guard, 1946 (The official history of Coast Guard operations in Alaska during World War II).

The 1954 Historic Arctic Adventure of the [USCGC] Northwind, by Phil Jaffe (Tempe, AZ: Third Millennium Publishing, 2006); posted here by permission of the author.

Coast Guard Lighthouses & Other Aids to Navigation in Alaskan History (pdf file)

The oral history of LCDR Andrea Sacchetti, who served as the Air Operations Officer during the 2008 "Concept of Operations" deployment to Barrow, Alaska.


Arctic Operations, Arctic East/West Cruises & The Bering Sea Patrol:

Historical Overview: "A History of the Bering Sea Patrol"

An oral history of Vice Admiral Joseph E. Stika, about his time in the Revenue Cutter Service and duty with the Bering Sea Patrol.







1957 & The Northwest Passage:








Great Lakes & Other Domestic Icebreaking Operations:

Operation Taconite Overview

International Ice Patrol:

A History of the International Ice Patrol

Commanding Officers of the International Ice Patrol

The official website of the International Ice Patrol

Antarctica & Operation Deep Freeze:






The Coast Guard and the Greenland Patrol: an article describing the Coast Guard's role in Greenland during World War II.

The Coast Guard At War: Greenland Patrol: Volume 2 of the Coast Guard's Official World War II History Series, 1945.

The First U.S. Naval Capture of World War II: USCGC Northland vs. S.S. Buskoe

"The Greenland Ice Cap Rescue of B-17 'PN9E' November 5, 1942 to May 8, 1943":  An article authored by retired Coast Guard Captain Don Taub that describes the attempts to rescue the crew of a downed B-17 Flying Fortress on Greenland during World War II.  One of those attempts led to the loss of two Coast Guard aviators, LT John Pritchard and RM1 Benjamin Bottoms, and their passenger, one of the B-17's crewmen.

Death of a Wooden Shoe: A Sailor's Diary of Life and Death on the Greenland Patrol, 1942, by Thaddeus D. Novak.  The detailed and comprehensive diary kept by Coast Guardsmen Thaddeus Novak covering his service with the Greenland Patrol during World War II.

Captain David W. Sinclair's memoir. CAPT Sinclair served on the Greenland Patrol during World War II.  

"Combat in the Arctic:" The Capture of the German Naval Auxiliary vessel Externsteine by USCGC Eastwind and USCGC Southwind in 1944.


The icebreaker CGC Healy

Icebreakers and the Coast Guard: A History

Coast Guard Icebreakers: A Historic Photo Gallery

"The Search for the United States Revenue Cutter Bear": The official report of a search team made up of Academy cadets and faculty about their 1979 expedition to find the wreck of the historic cutter Bear.

"Revised Memorandum of Agreement Between The Department Of The Navy And The Department Of The Treasury On The Operation Of Icebreakers, " (1965)

USCGC Healy: The United States' New Polar Research Icebreaking Vessel

U.S. Coast Guard Report: "U.S. Coast Guard Cutter POLAR SEA (WAGB 11) Historical Context Report" by Dr. Dan Koski-Korell, CG-47 (July, 2011).

Congressional Research Service Report: "Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress."  February 26, 2008, Report by Ronald O'Rourke, Report # RL34391.  Updated Report, November 3, 2011.

Department of Homeland Security IG Report: "The Coast Guard's Polar Icebreaker Maintenance, Upgrade, and Acquisition Program"; DHS OIG Report # 11-31, January, 2011.

"Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers: Past, Present and Future", an article by CDR Thomas Wojahn, Ice Operations Program Manager as published in the Summer of 2007 Coast Guard Proceedings Magazine.

"Structural Considerations in the Design of the POLAR Class of Coast Guard Icebreakers."  An article by Bruce Barber, Luis Baez and Gary North as presented to the Ship Structure Symposium of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 6-8 October 1975.

"Eyes of the Icebreakers," a 1958 article by LTJG Gilbert Shaw that describes the CGC Mackinaw and its use of a helicopter during ice-breaking missions on the Great Lakes.

"A Brief History of Arctic Icebreakers"; "The First Ship, West to East to Conquer the Northwest" & Future Icebreakers and Explorations in the Arctic" by Phil Jaffe.

"Coast Guard Cooperation in the Arctic: USCGC Healy's Continental Shelf Mission," by Michael Kraus & Jonathan Berkson.  (USCG) Proceedings (Spring, 2011), pp. 58-60.

Government Hearings, Reports, Policy & Other Official Documents & Publications:













  • "COAST GUARD: Efforts to Identify Arctic Requirements are Ongoing, but More Communication about Agency Planning Efforts Would Be Beneficial (GAO Report 10-870; September 2010).





Operation Taconite Overview (USCG)

The 1954 Historic Arctic Adventure of the [USCGC] Northwind, by Phil Jaffe (Tempe, AZ: Third Millennium Publishing, 2006); posted here by permission of the author.

"Chicago's Christmas Ship": the CGC Mackinaw's historic role as the city's "Christmas Ship", an article by Debbie Allyn Jett.

A photo of a memorial service for the Titanic aboard a Coast Guard cutter

A memorial service for the RMS Titanic, held on board a Coast Guard cutter,
sometime during the 1920s.

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Last Modified 1/14/2015