Articles by: Geoffrey Holmes, Director

Feature: Interviewing Master Chief James Hiller

We had the great pleasure of doing a video interview with Master Chief James Hiller on Wednesday.  Master Chief Hiller is 81 years old and sailed on the USCGC Storis when it made the historic circumnavigation of the continent along with USCGC Bramble and USCGC Spar in 1957.  He had many fascinating stories to tell us.  We were spellbound.

He wore his uniform for the interview and looked amazingly fit.   This is really incredible when you learn that he had had open heart surgery only four days before!  His wife told us that he doesn’t even take pain killers.  Now that’s tough.

We’re looking forward to editing Jim’s interview into the documentary.  It will add an amazing first person perspective.

We can’t thank him enough for making time for us and sharing his special stories for all to enjoy.

Here he is getting ready for the interview…



Feature: Contacting Veterans

If you or a family member served on USCGC Bramble, USCGC Storis, or USCGC Spar, we would like to hear from you.

We’re putting together a special list of former crew members and will make it a priority to provide special updates about both the ship and the film to veterans. We also have plans to honor former crew members in a very special part of the film so we would like to hear from you. Please visit this page and fill out the form:

Feature: Ice Breaking Sounds

I was reviewing and logging some of the first video footage Bill and I shot for the film.  It seems like so long ago now.

The first sequence I’m cutting together involves the Bramble’s ice-breaking trials in Lake Huron.  I was up on the forecastle when we started breaking ice and I’ll never forget that metallic crunching noise.

I’m going to be mixing the audio tracks for the film in 5.1 stereo.  That means the sound will be coming from five different channels instead of the usual two for stereo.  This should really make the viewer feel immersed in the movie.

Feature: Farewell Buoy

Captain Robert just sent us these photos from Mobile, Alabama.  The large steel buoy that had been occupying the Bramble’s deck has now been removed.  This will free up deck space for vehicles and other equipment.

I’m kind of sorry to see the buoy go.  It was on display when Bramble was a museum ship in Port Huron and made the journey with us all the way to Mobile.  It will most likely find a new home here as a display piece.

Farewell old buoy!

Feature: Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat

When Bill and I return to the Bramble, the buoy the ship has been carrying will be gone, but the deck won’t be empty.  The ship will be carrying a brand new rigid-hulled inflatable boat as well as a land vehicle and several jet skis.  These are great additions to the expedition.

The “RIB” will allow us more freedom to get wide shots of the Bramble, plus we’ll be able to launch our dive excursions from it.  The land vehicle will make it more convenient for the crew to move supplies and explore the ports we visit.

At one point, there was some talk of adding a helicopter pad to the ship, but it’s impractical because of the amount of deck space.

Bramble is turning into a very versatile craft and has many years of exploration ahead of it.

However, it’s nice to hear the ship is retaining it’s original look and being painted in Coast Guard colors.   As a tribute to history, the interior will also remain mostly unchanged so visitors can view it as a floating museum.



Feature: USCGC Spar

Today’s feature is about USCGC Spar,  a 180′ buoy tender and sister ship to the Bramble.  An Iris class vessel, she was built by Marine Ironworks and Shipbuilding Corporation in Duluth, Minnesota.  On 13 September 1943 the keel was laid, she was launched on 2 November 1943 and commissioned on 12 June 1944.   Spar’s name comes from the Coast Guard motto “Semper Paratus” which translates to “Always Ready”.  Very clever!  S-P-A-R.

USCGC Spar, along with USCGC Bramble and USCGC Storis, made the journey through the Northwest Passage in 1957 to become the first American ships to circumnavigate the continent.

After a long and distinguished career, Spar was intentionally sunk off the coast of North Caroline to create and artificial reef in June, 2004.

Our film will include a dive expedition to Spar and the unvieling of a special plaque in honor of the bond between the ship’s crews.  It should be a very exciting and moving part of the movie.


Feature: Epic Shipyard

I was reviewing the footage I shot as Bramble sailed into the Epic Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.  Our ship was dwarfed by the enormous cranes, ships, and floating dry docks all around us.  I caught sight of one of the US Navy’s impressive Littoral combat ships being serviced.  Very futuristic looking and designed to be stealthy.

Our ship will be raised out of the water by one of the floating dry docks.  These docks sink low enough in the water to slip under a ship, then float upwards to raise it out for servicing.   I’m hoping Captain Robert will soon be sending some images of Bramble being worked on.  She’s due to get significant upgrades and even a new coat of paint.  I can’t wait to show a “before and after” shot.

Travel Log: April 27, 2019 Arrival In Mobile, Alabama

The Bramble has arrived in Mobile, Alabama at the Epic Shipyards!  Here she’ll be put in dry dock for about a month to undergo some upgrades including (yay!) air conditioning.  What a feeling of accomplishment!  Thanks to Captain Robert and the entire crew for getting us here safely.  And for putting up with our constant questions and video requests.

Here’s a pic of Aaron, Marlon, Scott, and Larry as we tie up in Mobile.  These guys are tough!

I’ll be heading home to do some post-production work while the ship is being upgraded but Captain Robert will be sending pics from the gulf and I’ll be posting some cool video clips so keep checking in!  Thanks.

Travel Log: April 26, 2019 “About a Buoy”

This is the buoy that’s been lashed to our deck since we left Port Huron.  When Bramble was a museum ship it was there to show visitors what Bramble was designed to do: tend to buoys.  They are very important because they act like guides and traffic signals at sea.  Without them, there would be chaos and ships with cargo couldn’t get where they are going.

This buoy weighs an enormous amount:  thousands of pounds, as it’s designed to survive the worst the sea can throw at it.  Bramble has a built in crane to pluck buoys out of the water, service them, and then re-install them.  This one is going to be removed from our ship in Mobile, Alabama when we reach dry dock.  Tom Clarke, the ship’s new owner, is going to put a Land Rover on deck and a brand new “RIB” or Rigid Inflatable Boat, which will be very handy for our Arctic and dive adventures.