Nautical writer Peter Marsh brought an interesting tidbit to the Ear’s attention: The last ship Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen used in his attempts to reach the North Pole, Maud, has returned to Norway. And, quite the journey it’s been.
Maud, a polar ship built specifically for Amundsen’s (pictured inset) second expedition to the Arctic, was launched in Vollen, Norway, on June 7, 1917. He christened her with a block of ice, saying, “You are made for the ice.”
In 1918, when Amundsen set off from Norway, his plan was to deliberately get Maud stuck in the ice, and then hopefully drift across the North Pole, doing scientific research all the while. But even after several years of being ice-bound during two separate ventures, he never did reach the North Pole, and left the expedition in 1921.
With Oscar Wisting now in command, Maud made more unsuccessful attempts at the North Pole before arriving in Nome, Alaska, in 1925, only to find Amundsen’s creditors wanted to take the ship. Wisting whisked the ship away before they could, but they caught up with him when he landed in Seattle.
Maud was seized and sold to the Hudson Bay Company. The once-famed expedition ship was reduced to becoming a floating warehouse and wireless radio station before sinking to the bottom in 1931, while moored in Cambridge Bay, Canada. Where she probably would have stayed, if not for the Maud Returns Home project. They raised Maud in 2016, then this summer towed her across the Atlantic Ocean to Norway.
She is now being towed up the Norwegian coast, and is expected to arrive at her hometown of Vollen on Aug. 18, where she will hopefully be displayed at a new museum. Maud is pictured, arriving in Norway, courtesy of Jan Wangaard leader of the project; the project’s website provided the photo of Maud in her prime.
“It brings joy to our hearts,” Wangaard said, “to see Maud, still proud after all these years, see her old homeland once again.”