Glacier Society opens Florida satellite

June 3 , 2004

 The Stratford, CT-based international Glacier Society has established an office in Fort Lauderdale, FL to broaden member support for the restoration and redeployment of the USS/USCGC Glacier, a post-World War II icebreaker that conducted a record-breaking 39 missions to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Florida facility was announced by society chairman Bernard G. Koether II, who noted the significance of Fort Lauderdale as the center of the nation’s cruise ship industry, processing more than 50,000 visitors over year-end holidays alone. 

Koether added, “The industry leadership is in South Florida and we are seeking participation and support from within the industry to help us operate Glacier efficiently.”

The Glacier Society is a non-profit 501-(c)3 Educational Foundation dedicated to the restoration and operation of the USS/USCGC Glacier in honor of all who served in the exploration of the North and South Poles. 

The Glacier is moored in the Maritime Administration’s Defense Reserve Fleet Facility in Susuin Bay, north of San Francisco, where volunteer work crews carry out restoration efforts.

In a recent progress report on the ship’s restoration, Koether wrote, “Dr. Bruce Becker of Brown University Emergency Medicine has crafted a business plan for the proposed medical operations aboard Glacier. This document has been circulated for peer review at Yale University and the University of Alaska, as well as the Institute of Circumpolar Health.

“Suffice to say, we have a good mission and a good plan, and are well on the way to creating a detailed design and specification for the conversion of the ship. Enthusiasm in Alaska and other circumpolar nations is growing and bringing us increased support for our mission,” Koether added. 

In addition to her Arctic and Antarctic deployments, the Glacier is one of only a few United States ships to serve under the colors of both the US Navy and the US Coast Guard.

“Once the Glacier has been restored, she will be the ideal scientific/oceanographic platform on which to conduct various levels of environmental research. She will be involved with today's major polar research centers, studying oceanographic diversities and biological samples from polar waters,” Koether said.
The restored ship, he added, will operate as a certified school ship. Hands-on training will be provided for all levels from K-12 through post-graduate.

“The Glacier,” Koether continued, “exemplifies the best of America in action: military service personnel, scientists, and citizens working together with the government for a common good. She will serve as a major tourist attraction to Bridgeport, CT. While in port, she will house a museum honoring all men and women who have explored vast regions of the world and served for their country.”

Built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, MI, the Glacier was launched Aug. 27, 1954. Her many innovations were state-of-the-art and her subsequent 33-year performance history with the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Coast Guard proved overwhelmingly impressive.

Commissioned May 27,1955, Glacier was the free world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker, capable of breaking ice up to 20 feet thick. Her Navy service extended to June 30, 1966, when she was transferred to the Coast Guard, under which she served until decommissioning in May 1987.

Named for Glacier Bay off the Alaskan coast, the ship was painted red in 1972 in order to improve visibility in Arctic regions. In the following year, all other icebreakers, except Mackinaw, also were painted red.

The Glacier represented the “Glacier” class of icebreakers, a scaled-up version of the “Wind” class, and had extended range, heavier ice-breaking capability and extended mission duration. She supported numerous polar scientific explorations, made several Antarctic landings and penetrations not previously accomplished, and performed a number of ship rescues.