Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Three year historic Northwest Passage by Roald Amundsen aboard 47ton 12hp GJOA completes in 1906 with 6 crew

Born16 July 1872
Diedc. 18 June 1928 (aged 55)
ParentsJens Amundsen, Hanna Sahlqvist

Amundsen, Roald, 1872-1928.  

Roald Amundsen's "The North West Passage"; Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship "Gjöa" 1903-1907. London, 1908. [Rare Books Division]

Amundsen is a name synonymous with polar exploration. Better known as the first man to reach the South Pole, the Norwegian also commanded several other significant Arctic expeditions. As he wrote in his Northwest Passage book's introduction: “It is in the service of science that these numerous and incessant assaults have been made upon what is perhaps the most formidable obstacle ever encountered by the inquisitive human spirit, that barrier of millennial, if not primæval ice which, in a wide and compact wall, enshrouds the mysteries of the North Pole” [Vol. 1, p.2.]. More directly, Amundsen was stimulated by his childhood memories of the failed Franklin expedition of the 1840s and the successful Northeast Passage transit of the Vega by the Swedish geologist and explorer A. E. Nordenskiöld in the 1870s. In 1899, as mate in the Belgian Antarctic Expedition under Adrien de Gerlache, he proposed combining his boyhood dream of completing the Northwest Passage with the scientific aim of locating the present site of the Magnetic North Pole. He won the approval and aid of the veteran Norwegian explorer and scientist Fridtjof Nansen, and raised money, acquired equipment, and bought and outfitted a former herring-boat named Gjöa [see image of it from the book]. Weighing forty-seven tons, the little sailing ship boasted a 13-hp engine, stowed enough food and supplies for five years, and carried an experienced Arctic crew of seven, including Amundsen.
They cast off from Christiania [now Oslo] on the night of 16 June 1903. In creeping up the west coast of Greenland, they were fortunate to have missed the early ice, and reached Dalrymple Rock (their farthest North, latitude 76° 28'20" N), where Scottish whalers had deposited some stores for them, on August 15. From there it was just a week's sailing across Baffin Bay, through the opening of Lancaster Sound, to Beechey Island, where they anchored in Erebus Bay. After exploring the barren island (they found the memorials in good order), scavenging through the old Franklin depot, and completing their magnetic observations, they departed on the 24th, sailing and motoring down Peel Sound and Franklin Strait, past the eastern side of King William Island, through Rae Strait, to the safety of a small harbor on the island's southeastern corner that they christened “Gjöahavn” [today's Gjöa Haven]. It was the middle of September. They had survived a fire in the engine room and a grounding on a submerged reef, and had depended on dead reckoning due to the compass's fluctuations around the magnetic pole. Amundsen decided to winter there to concentrate on magnetic work.

As soon as I saw Gjöahavn, I decided to choose it for our winter quarters. It was evident that the autumn storms had set in in earnest, and I knew the waters further west were very shallow. Before deciding definitely upon this course, I intended to explore the harbour in a boat. The Magnetic Pole, as shown by our observations, appeared situated somewhere in the neighborhood of its old position, and as Gjöahavn was about 90 miles from that locality, it should, according to the dicta of scientific men, be particularly suited for a fixed magnetic station. . . . So why look further west for a harbour, which possibly we should not find. Had the completion of the North West Passage been our chief object, it would have been a different matter, and nothing would have prevented us from going further on. [Amundsen, in his Roald Amundsen's “The North West Passage”, Vol. 1, p. 80.]

“The ‘Gjöa' at Anchor in Gjöahavn (Summer of 1904)”

For almost two years, Gjöa Haven was their home [see map of their activities during that time] .
Thoroughly interacting with the local Inuit and adopting their clothing, Amundsen's party participated in dog sledding and seal hunting activities in the winter and kayaking and net fishing during the summer—in addition to fulfilling their scientific tasks. A major sledge trip was undertaken in the spring of 1905 by second mate Helmer Hansen and first engineer and meteorologist Peder Ristvedt to the eastern coast of Victoria Island along the remaining uncharted region. They reached their furthest point north, which they named Cape Nansen, on May 26; a month later they were back at the ship, having covered 800 miles. Gjöa and its crew finally departed from Gjöa Haven on 13 August 1905.

I looked forward to the expedition with confidence. We were well equipped, and had good reliable comrades, and smart dogs. We should have been glad of a few more of the latter. But with a good heart and a good will we would manage with those we had. On March 1st we were ready to start. The thermometer stood at 63½ below zero (Fahr.) But in the course of the month of February we had become so used to the cold that it really did not make any great impression on us. We were, indeed, extremely well clad, some of us in complete Eskimo costume, others in a partly-civilised style. My experience is that the Eskimo dress in winter in these regions is far superior to our European clothes. Woolen underclothing absorbs all the perspiration and soon becomes wet through and through. Dressed in nothing but reindeer skin, like the Eskimo, and with garments so loose and roomy on the body that the air can circulate between them, one can generally keep his things dry. . . . A further great advantage of skin is that you feel warm and comfortable the moment you put it on. . . . Finally, skins are absolutely wind-proof, which, of course, is a very important point. [Amundsen, Vol. 1, pp. 146, 149-150.]

“The First Sledge Expedition”

Though there was much ice in Queen Maud's Gulf, Dease Strait was completely clear. However, serious pack ice began advancing down on them from the east near Cape Bathurst. Soon after, they met two American whalers heading to Herschel Island, which was their destination as well, but the ice stymied them, and they were forced to spend the winter at King Point, where the schooner Bonanza from San Francisco had been beached due to damage. Desiring to post mail and wire a telegram of his accomplishment, Amundsen joined the whalers' mail run from Herschel Island to Eagle City (on the Yukon River); they left on October 24 and reached Eagle City a little more than a month later. Waiting for mail from home, he stayed in Eagle City for another two months, but was back at King Point on 12 March 1906. Gustsav Wiik, Amundsen's assistant for magnetic observations, got very sick and died at the end of March and was buried at King Point where their magnetic instrument stand had stood. Ice conditions allowed the group to leave on July 2, but then they were grounded in the harbor on the east side of Herschel Island for three weeks. They made several attempts to continue their journey west, but each time ice forced them back to Herschel Island. They made their final escape on August 9. Along the coast of Alaska they dealt with heavy fog and wind-driven ice; they damaged their propeller shaft near Cape Simpson, and while the mainsail was being set, the gaff broke—fortunately, these troubles were coming at the end of their trip. At Point Barrow, Amundsen received a letter of invitation from the people of the town of Nome. Using the opportunity to obtain a new gaff, they arrived at Nome on 31 August 1906: the celebration there marked the official end of the first successful Northwest Passage voyage. Echoing what other explorers before him had hoped, Amundsen reflected about the situation of the Inuit he had met:
During the voyage of the “Gjöa” we came into contact with ten different Eskimo tribes in all, and we had good opportunities of observing the influence of civilisation on them, as we were able to compare those Eskimo who had come into contact with civilisation with those who had not. And I must state it as my firm conviction that the latter, the Eskimo living absolutely isolated from civilisation of any kind, are undoubtedly the happiest, healthiest, most honourable and most contented among them. It must, therefore, be the bounden duty of civilised nations who come into contact with the Eskimo, to safeguard them against contaminating influences, and by laws and stringent regulations protect them against the many perils and evils of so-called civilisation. . . . My sincerest wish for our friends the Nechilli Eskimo is, that civilisation may never reach them. [Vol. 2, pp. 48, 51.]
When we got down into the [Bering] Strait, we caught a glimpse of the Diomedes Islands. These look barren and inhospitable . . . As we passed between the islands and the shore, we “old hands” gathered on deck and drank the first cup to celebrate the final accomplishment of the North West Passage by ship. I had hoped to have a little festivity to mark this notable event, but weather did not permit. The event was celebrated by a simple toast, nothing more. . . . Our only hope now was that the wind would hold out till we reached Nome, and could procure a new gaff. We headed south towards Nome under trysail and any other sails we could carry. . . . Suddenly a steam launch appeared in front of us, and we heard whistling, shouting, and cheering—the American's mode of expressing enthusiasm. Dark as it was, we could still discern the Norwegian flag floating side by side with the Stars and Stripes on the launch. So we had been recognised. The reception they gave us at Nome defies my powers of description. The heartiness with which we were welcomed, the unbounded enthusiasm of which the “Gjöa” was the object, will always remain one of my brightest memories of our return. [Amundsen, Vol. 2, pp. 285, 286-287, 291, 292.]
Building on his Arctic experience, Amundsen later went on to conquer the South Pole, arriving there on 14 December 1911, thirty-five days before Robert F. Scott.

Amundsen disappeared on June 18, 1928 while flying on a rescue mission with Norwegian pilot Leif Dietrichson, French pilot Rene Guilbaud, and three more Frenchmen, looking for missing members of Nobile's crew, whose new airship Italia had crashed while returning from the North Pole. Afterwards, a wing-float and bottom gasoline tank from the French Latham 47 flying boat he was in, improvised into a replacement wing-float, was found near the Tromsø coast. 

It is believed that the plane crashed in fog in the Barents Sea, and that Amundsen was killed in the crash, or died shortly afterwards. His body was never found. The search for Amundsen was called off in September by the Norwegian Government. In 2003 it was suggested that the plane went down northwest of Bear Island

Frigates of the Royal Norwegian Navy

HNoMS Roald Amundsen F311
HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen
HNoMS Otto Sverdrup
HNoMS Helge Ingstad

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Displacement:5,290 tons
Length:134 metres (439.63 ft)
Beam:16.8 metres (55.12 ft)
Draft:7.6 metres (24.93 ft)
Propulsion:Combined diesel and gas (CODAG)
Two BAZAN BRAVO 12V 4.5 MWdiesel engines for cruising
One GE LM2500 21.5 MW gas turbine for high speed running
MAAG gearboxes
two shafts driving controllable pitch propellers
Bow Thruster Retractable (Electric)1 MW Brunvoll
Diesel Generators 4 × MTU 396 Serie 12V 1250 KVA
Speed:26 knots (48.15 km/h)
Range:4,500 nautical miles (8,334.00 km)
120 men, accommodations for 146
Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F 3-D multifunction radar
Reutech RSR 210N air/sea surveillance radar
Sagem Vigy 20 Electro Optical Director
MRS 2000 hull mounted sonar
Captas MK II V1 active/passive towed sonar
2 × Mark 82 fire-control radar
Electronic warfare
and decoys:
Terma DL-12T decoy launcher, Loki torpedo countermeasure
Armament:1 × 8-cell Mk41 VLS w/ 32 × RIM-162 ESSM
8 × Naval Strike Missile SSMs
4 × torpedo tubes for Sting Ray torpedoes
Depth charges
1 × 76 mm OTO Melara Super Rapid gun
4 × 12,7 mm Browning M2HB HMGSea PROTECTOR
2 x LRAD Long Range Acoustic Device
Prepared for, but not equipped with:
1 × Otobreda 127 mm/54 gun to replace the 76 mm
1 × spare 76mm OTO Melara Super Rapid gun
1 × spare CIWS gun w/ calibre 40 mm or less
3 × spare 8- cell Mk41 VLSlaunchers
Low cost ASW
ECM: Active Off-board Decoy
Aircraft carried:1 × NH90 helicopter

Kongsberg Maritime's HUGIN AUV plays starring role in new film.
Kongsberg Maritime's HUGIN AUV is featured in an intriguing new documentary, which investigates the disappearance of Roald Amundsen and his 'Latham 47' sea-plane in the Barents Sea during a rescue mission in 1928. 'Roald Amundsen – Lost in the Arctic', is to have its first screening this Saturday (27th Feb 2010), in Oslo, Norway.

Equipped with synthetic aperture sonar, HUGIN 1000 provides high resolution acoustic imagery with a resolution of 3 x 3 centimeter.
The new film sees polar explorer Liv Arnesen and Per Arvid Tellemann, a former navy navigator and member of a commission that investigated Amundsen's untimely death uncover the mystery on land, whilst the Norwegian Navy, aboard its vessel KNM Tyr, searches for the wreckage of Amundsen's plane using a Kongsberg Maritime HUGIN 1000 AUVand HISAS 1030 synthetic aperture sonar.
Norwegian Roald Amundsen was one of the great explorers of the early 20th Century, having been the first to reach the South Pole in December 1911 and is also credited with the first verified attempt to cross the arctic in an airship in May 1926. Amundsen vanished along with 6 others when the Latham 47 they were flying crashed during a rescue mission to save the Italian general and aviation engineer Umberto Nobile, whose airship Italia had gone down returning from the North Pole.
The hunt for Amundsen's plane was co-organised by the Norwegian Aviation Museum, the Norwegian Navy and Context TV, a German television production company specialising in documentaries related to scientific-historical expeditions and explorations, with main emphasis on the underwater segment. The expedition started in August 2009, with HUGIN 1000 being used as the primary tool to search for the famous Norwegian arctic explorer's airplane over an area measuring 34 square nautical miles.
HUGIN 1000 is a state-of-the-art AUV with a depth capacity down to 1000 metres, an operational speed of 4 knots and the ability to stay deployed at sea for 18 hours non-stop with all sensors operating. The Norwegian Navy's HUGIN 1000 is primarily used for mine hunting so along with a payload that includes the Kongsberg Maritime developed HISAS 1030 synthetic aperture sonar, it is the ideal tool for hunting plane wreckage over such a large area. If the Latham had been in the search area, then the HUGIN would have found it.
"We are proud to have been part of this project," comments Bjørn Jalving, Vice President of AUVs, Kongsberg Maritime. "The HUGIN 1000 AUV with the HISAS 1030 synthetic aperture sonar has a new level of resolution and range in acoustic imagery and is especially designed to find small, modern mines, efficiently searching large areas. It has therefore been the perfect tool for searching for the Latham airplane."

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