Historic Cutter Faces Auctioneer's Hammer

USCGC Bramble
USCGC Bramble

Published Oct 16, 2019 7:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The vintage U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bramble has been arrested in Mobile, Alabama, for unpaid bills and will be auctioned on the steps of Mobile courthouse on November 6 . 

The vessel was sold to USCGC Bramble, LLC in 2013. This entity ran the vessel as a museum ship. Financial backer Tom Clark bought the Bramble in 2018 and has refurbished it, with plans to recreate the northwest passage undertaken by Bramble in 1957.

However, despite court action, debts remain unpaid. A spokesman from the plaintiff, Inchcape Shipping Services, Inc., says: “We hope that a passionate person or institution will be able to save her.”

USCGC Bramble (courtesy of Bramble Reborn)

Bramble is one of the 39 original 180-foot seagoing buoy tenders built between 1942 and 1944. In 1947, she participated in Operation Crossroads, the first test of an atomic bomb's effect on surface ships at Bikini Island. Bramble took over responsibility for the maintenance of Aids to Navigation (AtoN) in Bikini’s lagoon from her sister ship Redbud, which had helped prepare the target area for the first round of tests. Bramble was located about 15 miles from the atoll to watch the detonation of an atomic bomb over the target area before setting a course for Hawaii.

In 1957, Bramble, along with her sister ships, USCGC Spar and USCGC Storis, were selected to attempt a forced passage along the northern shore of Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The ships traveled through 4,500 nautical miles of semi-charted water in 64 days. The success of the mission distinguished the three cutters as the first American surface ships to circumnavigate the North American continent.

After Task Force Five completed its mission Bramble returned to Miami to take up her duties as an AtoN tender and SAR platform. These duties included assisting in the evacuations of Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, under the threat of Hurricane Gracie. In August 1962, she took up station in Detroit, Michigan, and went to work as an AtoN tender and icebreaker.