Norway Seeks to Reclaim South Pole Explorer's Shipwreck
- On 23/08/2011
- In Expeditions
From Our Amazing Planet
A group of Norwegian investors wish to use balloons to raise the ship from its current resting place, load it onto a barge and send it across the Atlantic to be showcased in a museum.
"The incredibly strong-built oak ship has been helped by the Arctic cold and clean water to be kept in a reasonably good shape," said Jan Wanggaard, project manager for the Norwegian scheme, after a recent visit to the wreck, the AFP reported.
The Maud, a 120-foot (36.5-meter) vessel named for Norway's queen at the time of Amundsen's explorations, was built to withstand frigid conditions. The ship left Norway in 1918 under Amundsen's command, with the aim of getting stuck in Arctic sea ice and floating through the Northwest Passage and across the North Pole.
Amundsen succeeded in the first of his goals — the ship spent years at a time locked in the ice. However, had he attempted the voyage in recent years, the explorer would have confronted very different conditions. Scientists have observed a steep drop-off in Arctic sea ice in recent decades.
Yet over the course of two expeditions, the first from 1918 to 1921, the second from 1922 to 1925, the ship never made it to the North Pole.
By 1930, the year the ship sank, Maud was serving as a warehouse and floating radio station in isolated Cambridge Bay, in what is now Canada's Nunavut province.
Asker, a seaside Norwegian town, purchased the wreck from Canadian authorities for a single dollar in 1990, but their permit to move the vessel has now expired.