Stewart J. Cort

Sundew was built in 1944, is 180 feet long and flies a U.S. flag

Susan W. Hanna
Click here for other pages featuring the Sundew
WWW – I am in the middle of updating the pictures and information on this Sundew ship page: October, 2017
The Sundew was launched Feb. 8, 1944 at the Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company in Duluth at a cost of $861,589. She carried a crew of 48, 8 officers and the rest enlisted.  Duluth was her homeport from 1980 until she was decommissioned in May, 2004. The Sundew was officially classified as a buoy tender, but was reinforced for additional ice breaking capability.
2004 – 2010
Sundew decommissioned, becomes a tour boat; in 2010, Jeff Foster purchases the Sundew and it is moved to the old LaFarge Duluth slip
Above, on May 26, 2004, members of the crew began to take their personal belongings off the ship. Below, others were in the pilot house, getting ready to depart the dock at Coast Guard Station Duluth and make the short trip over to the DECC to tie up there for the decommission ceremony the next day. On the right is Sundew Commander Steve Teschendorf; he took command of the Sundew the previous July, taking over for Commander Beverly Havlik. Teschendorf was the last commander for the Sundew and he became the first commander of the Sundew replacement, the Alder later that summer, giving him one year on the Sundew and two on the Alder.
Below, the Sundew’s mooring lines are released for the last time at Coast Guard Station Duluth as she left that dock for her decommission ceremony the next day at the DECC.
May 26, 2004: above, she arrives at the DECC for the ceremony the next day.
240527-1-004Above,  on May 27, 2004, dignitaries from the city’s of Superior and Duluth and the Coast Guard assemble on the stage; Congressman James Oberstar, seen at right arriving, was the main speaker. He had a long history of support for the Coast Guard’s service on the Great Lakes.  Below, members of the Sundew crew from past years were asked to stand up to be recognized; below that, Commander Havlik, the last Commander to serve a full 3-year service on the Sundew is recognized.
Above, the crew prepare to depart the ship for the last time, all leaving one at at time with a closing salute to their home for the previous 1, 2 or 3 years. Officers and crew then moved into formation to listen to the ceremonies.
A special speaker at the ceremony was Ms. Phyllis Latvala. She read from her father’s, Captain Russell H. Bergh, memoirs. He was the first Commanding officer on the Sundew in 1944.  It was nice to have a connection between the Sundew’s beginning and her end – her end at least as a Coast Guard vessel.
A few days later, the tugs North Carolina and Minnesota arrived to escort the Sundew to her new home just around the corner where she shared the slip also used by the William A. Irvin.
On August 28, 2009, Commander Beverly Havlik (middle) stopped by with her mother (second from right) for a short visit. By that time, it looked like the DECC was going to sell the Sundew. I talked Bev, who commanded the Sundew from June, 2000 until June, 2003, into walking over to her old ship for a visit.
The tour guides working on the ship were also sad to see the ship go, so we all shared our sad thoughts.  Erik Akervik and Tom Kanzier, from the left, are tour guides on the ship. At right, John Clark worked on maintaining the ship. They had a lot of questions for Bev; like where can we find the key to this place, what does that thing do, what is this connected to etc etc. She had a good answer for all questions.
Jeff Foster made many of us very happy when he purchased the Sundew in early 2010 and assured us his intention was to keep her in Duluth. Above he checked out his new purchase on February 15, 2010. He started working on the ship in the beginning of April and was ready to move her to a new home in May.
A few months ago, Kiyi captain Joe Walters took a lunch break at the Deep Water Grill in Ashland. Joe worked on the Sundew from 1994 to 97 as chief warrant officer. He got lots of experience navigating the vessel around the Great Lakes. He left the Coast Guard in 2000 and started work for the Lake Superior Biological Station at Ashland, Wisconsin as the captain of their research vessel Kiyi, a boat that comes to the Twin Ports a couple times a year. He had read in the paper that his old ship had been sold to Jeff Foster Trucking in Superior. When he saw someone at the restaurant wearing a Jeff Foster jacket, he walked over and introduced himself. It was not Jeff, but after their discussion, the message got back to Jeff that Joe was in Ashland.  Jeff needed a licensed captain to take the Sundew out of the slip next to the William A. Irvin, and knew that Joe would be a good person for the job. Partly out of coincidence, the Kiyi was scheduled to be in the Twin Ports this week, the same time that Jeff wanted to move the ship out. If all goes well, Joe will take the wheel of the Sundew for the first time in 13 years on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. That’s Joe on the bridge of the Kiyi on Monday afternoon. In the background, you can make out the Sundew, waiting for his arrival.
New owner Jeff Foster, on the left, looks clean and ready to go in a picture taken today. ‘Old’ owner, Bob Hom (actually, his employer, the DECC, was the ‘old’ owner of the Sundew) put in a lot of work yesterday getting the ship ready to go, literally. With the dirty work done yesterday, he was cleaner today.
On July 29, 2003, the Sundew hosted their annual change of command ceremony. Beverly Havlik will move to Hawaii to take care of the buoys in the Pacific Ocean and Stephen C. Teschendorf will serve the first half of his new command leading the Sundew through her last years before he takes his crew to Marinette to pick up the Alder and bring her to Duluth. (Before she came to Duluth, she spent time in Marinette overseeing the completion of the Alder

Havlik came to Duluth and got ice-breaking experience. It took 3 years before we were able to get her some ice to play with, and we sure gave her enough this past year. Click here for a detailed report on that effort.

Teschendorf is an old hand breaking ice. He served on the Biscayne Bay and commanded the Bristol Bay, home-ported in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a pretty good place to learn about breaking ice.

Spring, 2002 did not provide a big challenge to Sundew’s ice breaking capabilities.The ice this year was not thick, at most close to 18 inches in the Superior channel and up to a foot in much of the St. Louis River. Last year, the Sundew had to back and ram many times to get up under the ice and break it apart. This year, only when she ventured into Howard’s Bay, by Fraser Shipyard, did the Sundew have to back and ram. There, after a good back-and-ram to set things up, she fishtailed her way down the bay, moving back and forth to break a path beside the row of boats preparing to depart their winter berths.
Above, on March 15, 2001, the Sundew broke away from her winter crust of ice and moved out into the harbor to start breaking up the ice for the new season. Note the bow shaped piece of ice, left behind as the Sundew eased out into the water.
Two days later, the Sundew was out again. An ice jam off the stern of the James R. Barker seemed likely to cause some trouble. She would need that cleared before she could depart her winter layup position at the Midwest Energy Resources dock.
We had to go as slow as the Sundew could go without stopping. We came within 5 feet of the dock trying to clear out the ice. The curve of the bow made the job particularly difficult since the business end of the Sundew, the bow at water (ice) level, could only get within 10 feet of the dock. We came back one more time that day to try some more, but were never able to totally get the job done.
Across the St. Louis River from Midwest Energy, the work at the DM&IR dock was much more traditional ice breaking. The ice from the channel into the dock gave up yards slowly. As this was going on, I was summoned to a Sundew lunch. I ate my lunch (shrimp scampi and crab, with a lovely cheesecake with cherry topping for dessert) while the Sundew was backing and ramming on the front door of the DM&IR. The food was great but I had to chase it across my plate. And I missed some good pictures. But, did I mention, the food was delicious.
While we were in the neighborhood, the Sundew went next door to the Hallet Dock and cleared a path for the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. to leave her winter layup a couple days later.
Still on March 16th, they found the green buoy above had strayed about 280 yards from its intended position. The buoy’s job is to mark the edge of the ship channel, but it was now in the middle of the channel.  The flow of ice around it had carried it, and its 9,000-pound concrete anchor, into the channel.
We (of course, I mean ‘they’) picked it up and put it on the buoy deck and lifted the anchor off the river bottom so that it also made the short trip, with the Sundew to its rightful place.
They carried it the 280 yards back to its rightful place where it was dropped back into its icy home.
On April 12, the Sundew was back in port after picking up a damaged weather buoy, number 45001. It is the one in the back in the picture above. It had ceased to work and was not transmitting weather data.The new 45001 is on the Sundew deck in the picture below. It is probably not new, but it has more sophisticated technology inside it, thanks to the two men in the picture. They came up from the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi with the buoy (the buoy came by truck; they flew in.)
buoy45001In the picture above taken on June 21, 2001, they are doing the final testing on buoy 45001 before departing later that day (picture below) to drop the new 45001 into the water. You can see the buoy in the middle of the picture, sitting on the deck of the Sundew. That’s buoy doctor Charles Stewart on the left. Buoy doctor Patrick Bergin is in the middle.The failed buoy will be put on a truck and sent to the buoy hospital at Stennis. Charles and Patrick will fly back to Stennis after the Sundew arrives in Sturgeon Bay.LTJG Edward Weiland (at the right above), from the Sundew, is watching everything and especially taking care of his motorcycle, parked just behind the buoy on the right. He will use it to return to Duluth later this summer before leaving for a vacation in Germany.

The picture above right is taken from the National Data Buoy Center web site at  in June, 2016. It is probably the ‘new’ buoy the Sundew placed there in June, 2001. The page shows all the weather data the buoy is transmitting at that time. You can find out all the weather information you want concerning the weather in the middle of Lake Superior at 48.061 N 87.793 W (48°3’41” N 87°47’33” W.

Above, buoy 45001 departs Duluth on the Sundew deck.
Lieutenant Commander Beverly Havlik
Lieutenant Commander Beverly A. Havilk, right, relieved Commander Michael C. Husak, left, on June 22, 2000 at the Change of Command ceremony held right next to the ship. Typically, it is a three-year post. Commander Husak then went to a new post in Washington, DC.  Commander Havlik will be here also for three years.
Above, on June 25, 2000, Havlik took the Sundew out on her first mission going just beyond the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior where they will do some work on the Stannard Light, a lighthouse many miles from shore. The lighthouse is mounted on an underwater mountain, called Stannard Rock, which runs underwater for nearly a quarter mile. The peak of the mountain is only 4-feet below the surface. The lighthouse marks the spot, and the shallow water that surrounds it was a major menace to mariners prior to the building of the lighthouse.
Many crew members on the Sundew bring their families with them when they report for duty in Duluth. That of course means saying good bye many times a year, as above when a family waved to father/husband as he went out to the Lake on October 16, 2000.
Commander Michael C. Husak  relieved Commander Brubacker in 1997 and served until June, 2000 when he was relived by Bevery Havlik in June 2000. She served until July 2003.
Commander William Brubacker served on the Sundew from 1994 to 1997. Here he is in the very cold pilot house on the Sundew in November, 1996. Above, he brought the ship into port in April, 1996.
Arriving Duluth in October, 1995
The Coast Guard cutter Sundew was launched from Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company in Duluth in 1944. Her first assignment was in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, ironically the city where her successor, the Alder, was built. After many assignments during the next 36 years and just after her main engines were upgraded at the Coast Guard’s own shipyard at Curtis Bay, Maryland, she finally reported for duty at her home port in Duluth in 1980 as the most powerful cutter for her size in the Coast Guard. She served here until 2004 when she was towed to the slip beside the DECC in Canal Park and turned into a museum.
After 5 years there, the ship was put up for sale by the DECC. Jeff Foster, of Jeff Foster Trucking, purchased the boat for around $100,000.  When not on the water, she is docked at the old cement terminal just beyond Bayfront Park. Jeff uses the ship for a number of activities so far, often making short trips into the Lake or as today, moving her to the DECC for public tours and an evening cruise. Jeff comes from a shipping family, his grandfather once served as captain of the Joseph H. Thompson, a 706 foot long Great Lakes freighter that still works the lake and visits Duluth several times a year. Click here for more info about the Joseph H. Thompson


  1. Jodi Ligeros says:

    I was wondering if you plan to have a cruise schedule? I’m extremely interested if you are having passengers during the 2016 Tall Ship festival? Please contact me. It would mean so much to me to be able to sail on the 404 Sundew. Thank you.

  2. Clifford Smith says:

    How do I contact any one about the times to see the Sundew
    I was a crew member in 1949/50.
    Thank You
    Old retired Coastee
    Kip Smith

  3. i wish i owend that that would be awsome lol

  4. very fitting…lots of history there. and here–connections between Sundew, Joseph H. Thompson and D-Day.

  5. Saw her go out via DSNTV just a few minutes ago – I thought her taking a cruise today was rather appropriate, D-Day….
    West St. Paul, MN

  6. Hi, Like the site. What’s the future hold for the Sundew?

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