Arctic explorer's ship to return to Norway

2012-11-26 09:55

((AFP))

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Ottawa – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's three-mast ship Maud, long abandoned in the Canadian Arctic ice, will be salvaged and repatriated mid-2013, a Norwegian group announced.

The group, which plans to return the old polarship to Norway to be the centerpiece of a new museum, is this week in Cambridge Bay in Canada's far north filming and photographing the shipwreck trapped in ice.

Jan Wanggaard, manager of the effort to bring the Maud to Norway, said the shipwreck was stripped by locals and torn by ice over the years, but also has been conserved by the cold temperatures "in an incredible way."

"The oak wood in Maud still seems to be in prime conditions," he said in a statement.

The documentary film team has prepared a tent on the ice with a dive hole inside for access under the ice "to document the old ship in her true element" on the seabed in the shallow waters of Cambridge Bay.

"Just to be here now in the winter, with temperatures around minus 30°C, makes me feel much closer to the ship and its history than ever before during our two earlier summer surveys," Wanggaard commented.

"The impressions of seeing and feeling her tied into the iron grip of the ice really makes me emotional and respectful to the ship and its physicality as well to the whole story of the ship."

In 1906, Amundsen became the first European to sail through the Northwest Passage searching for a shorter shipping route from Europe to Asia, something explorers had been trying to find for centuries.

Five years later, he became the first person to reach the South Pole. His attempts to reach the North Pole however failed.

Amundsen again sailed through the Northeast Passage with the Maud in 1918-20, but was unable to get far enough north to launch a North Pole expedition.

Amundsen tried, and failed, one more time from the Bering Strait in 1920-21.

The Maud, built in Asker, Norway and named after Norway's Queen Maud, was sold to Hudson's Bay Company in 1925 and rechristened the Baymaud. It ended its days as a floating warehouse and the region's first radio station before sinking at its moorings in 1930.

In 1990, Asker Council in Norway bought the wreck for just $1.

Cambridge Bay residents fought its removal but the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board granted an export permit for the ship in March.

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