Norwegians return to Nunavut for another close look at the Maud
Next August Roald Amundsen’s ship will head to Norway
Jan Wanggaard, the manager of “Maud Returns Home” project, is back in Cambridge Bay this month to continue scoping out the sunken hulk of the Maud, the ship once sailed by the famous Norwegian polar hero Roald Amundsen, which Wanggaard and his Norwegian backers plan to bring back to Norway in 2013.
On Aug. 5, Wanggaard and a fellow diver from Norway managed to lift “some grand old planks from the seabed” that had fallen off the Maud.
Those planks, about two by six feet long, appeared to be in excellent condition after 80 years in the Arctic waters, Wanggaard told Nunatsiaq News in an Aug. 6 interview from Cambridge Bay.
The two divers also found the anchor of the Maud — also known as the Baymaud by people in Cambridge Bay.
When Wangaard visited Cambridge Bay in 2011, with no export permit in hand, he didn’t have permission to disturb the Maud.
But that state of affairs changed last March when Canada’s cultural property export review board decided that while “the Maud is of outstanding significance to Canada, but that its loss would not significantly diminish the national heritage,” the Norwegians could apply for an export permit to take the Maud back to Norway.
This year, Wanggaard plans to measure the ship from every angle and retrieve some of the debris now lying around on the seabed.
In 2013, “the focus will different,” Wanggaard said.
That’s when the plans involve raising the Maud with balloons, dragging the hulk over to a barge made from the legs of a former oil platform and then towing it from Nunavut back to Norway — a 7,000-kilometre journey.
There, the Maud will be exhibited at a futuristic museum in Asker, a suburb of Oslo — where anything to do with Amundsen remains a huge draw.
Amundsen, the first European adventurer to travel the Northwest Passage in 1906 and the first person to reach the South Pole in December 1911, left Norway in 1918 with the Maud, planning to drift with the ice across the Northeast Passage westwards and over the North Pole.
But his crew never got into the westward current, although the expedition did produce some excellent scientific results — mostly after Amundsen had given up and left the ship.
Creditors sold the Maud in 1925 to the Hudson Bay Co., which renamed it the Baymaud. The ship ended its days as a floating warehouse and radio station, and sank at its mooring in 1930.
Norway has had its eyes on the sunken Maud for more than 20 years. In 1990, the Hudson’s Bay Co. transferred the ship’s ownership to Asker for $1, which then transferred the Maud to Tandberg and its project group “Maud Returns Home” in 2011.
Wanggaard plans to stay in Cambridge Bay until Aug. 23 when he will travel to the Vancouver Maritime Museum to continue his research on the Maud.
Meanwhile, a documentary film team from Norway will track his stay in Cambridge Bay.
Before Wanggaard and the other Norwegians leave, they plan on meeting with local residents so that “they feel as part of the process” and can have input into a future display or memorial to the ship after heads back to Norway in 2013.