This week’s Maritime Monday is a re-run.
Belgian Antarctic Expedition
(1117 x 738)
Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions
Icebreaking steamship Fyodor Litke (1909) – built in 1909 as an icebreaking freight and passenger steamer in Barrow-in-Furness, England for the Saint Lawrence River service and initially named CGC Earl Grey.
Unlike conventional icebreakers that crush ice with their own weight from above, Litke belonged to an older generation of vessels, relying on ramming and cutting ice without any downward movement. For this reason, Litke was uniquely classified as an ice-cutter. The ship was known to roll excessively, even on relatively calm seas.
After four years in Canada it was sold to the Russian government and eventually renamed in honour of the Arctic explorer Fyodor Petrovich Litke.
Litke became famous for its Arctic operations in 1932—1935, survived World War II and was retired in 1958 after nearly 50 years of service.
Built for the Imperial Russian Navy by Armstrong Whitworth in Newcastle upon Tyne and launched in 1898. She was named after the famous Russian explorer of Siberia Yermak Timofeyevich.
In 1899 she reached 81°21?N, north of Spitsbergen.
During World War I, she assisted the Baltic Fleet during the Ice cruise when the fleet was evacuated from Helsinki to Kronstadt in February 1918.
During World War II she was mobilised again and took part in the evacuaton of Hanko naval base.
Yermak served with different branches of Russian and Soviet Navy and Merchant Marine up until 1964, becoming one of longest-serving icebreakers in the world. +
Der Eisbrecher Stettin im Nord-Ostsee Kanal (Kiel Canal)
(4,320 — 3,240 pixels)
Launched: 7 September 1933 – Out of service: 1981
Steam icebreaker built by the shipyard Stettiner Oderwerke in 1933. For the first time in Germany, the construction was characterized by a novel new design called Runeberg-bow. It was not broken by the weight of the ship but by a sharp cutting edge. Stettin was able to break ice up to a thickness of half a meter, at a constant speed of one to two knots.
Diesel-engines, already in wide use by 1933, were not chosen. Unlike diesel engines, steam piston engines can be reversed within a very short period of approximately 3 to 4 seconds, making the ship more maneuverable in icy conditions.
The icebreakers of Stettin were handled by a company which ran a seaside resort ferry service during the summer. Its other ships had similar engines, so a single crew of 22 men could be employed year round.
On the night of 8 April 1940, Stettin participated in the capture of Copenhagen by participating in a surprise landing of German troops in Copenhagen together with the railway ferry/minelayer Hansestadt Danzig.
Today, she is a technical culture monument. Her homeport is the museum port of Oevelgoenne in Hamburg, Germany. During summertime, Stettin cruises with passengers. +
see also: Nazi Arctic Bases Captured 1945
USCG blasts away pack ice to reach Nazi radio stations in Greenland
The Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897 to 1899 was the first expedition to winter in the Antarctic region.
In 1896, Adrien de Gerlache purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, which, following an extensive refit, was renamed Belgica.
With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook and Henryk Arctowski, they set sail from Antwerp on 16 August 1897. After charting and naming several islands during some 20 separate landings, they crossed the Antarctic Circle on 15 February 1898.
Cook, at left, with Roald Amundsen, ca. 1898
“…We are imprisoned in an endless sea of ice… We have told all the tales, real and imaginative, to which we are equal. Time weighs heavily upon us as the darkness slowly advances.”
Several weeks later, on 17 May, total darkness set in, which lasted until 23 July.
Frederick Cook: A Digital Exhibition:
Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897 – 1899)
Ohio State University Libraries
South Pole Belgian Antarctic Expedition
on Digital History Project
Fred Wolff Popular Science; August 1971
expository schematic perspective (1368 x 1038)
Codename for a series of United States missions to Antarctica, beginning with Operation Deep Freeze I in 1955–56, and owing to the continued US presence in that area, it has come to be used as a general term for US operations in that continent, and in particular for the regular missions to resupply US Antarctic bases, coordinated by the United States military.
Equipment garage, McMurdo Station
Operation Deep Freeze; Antarctica, 1963
USCGC Westwind; First Trip to the Arctic
on Coast Guard Stories
USCGC Westwind (WAGB-281) – Wind-class heavily armed icebreaker that served in the United States Coast Guard as USCGC Westwind (WAG-281), the Soviet Navy as the Severni Polius, and again in the U.S. Coast Guard as Westwind.
Launched on 31 March 1943, her hull was of unprecedented strength and structural integrity, with a relatively short length. 1945: 21 February: Transferred to Soviet Union under the Lend-lease program and renamed. Returned to the USCG in 1951.
Decommissioned 28 February, 1988. Final disposition is unknown. +
The Wind-class icebreakers were a line of diesel electric-powered icebreakers in service with the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and Soviet Navy from 1944 through the late 1970s. All except Eastwind served at least thirty years, Northwind serving in the USCG continuously for forty-four years.
Considered the most technologically advanced icebreakers in the world when first built, the Wind-class icebreakers were also heavily armed. The “Winds” were the first class of true icebreakers built by the United States with input from the Coast Guard’s Naval Engineering Division.
State of the art when designed, their hulls were of unprecedented strength, their bows had the characteristic sloping forefoot that enabled her to ride up on heavy ice (as much as 13 foot) and break it with the weight of the vessel.
The sides of the icebreaker were rounded, which enabled the ship to break free from ice by heeling from side to side., which was accomplished by shifting water rapidly from wing tanks on one side of the ship to the other. A total of 220 tons of water could be moved from one side to the other in as little as 90 seconds. Ballast could also be shifted rapidly between fore and aft tanks to change the trim of the ship.
OPERATION DEEP FREEZE; 1963
269-ft., 6,515 ton U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker EASTWIND rips open a channel through frozen McMurdo Sound for cargo ships carrying personnel, equipment, and supplies for scientific stations. (full size)
The Eastwind became the first cutter to ever circumnavigate the globe. She departed Boston on 25 October 1960, transited the Panama Canal, crossed the Pacific Ocean, visited New Zealand and then participated in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. She sailed home via the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and arrived back at Boston in May, 1961. +
ARCTIC CRUISE OF THE US COAST GUARD CUTTER EASTWIND
1 May – 19 September 1952
ALERT Weather Station; Dumb Bell Bay
Coast Guard Stories
USCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279) – Wind-class icebreaker built by Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Pedro, California, for the USCG. Launched: 3 June 1944; completed in time to see action in World War II, she continued in USCG service under the same name until decommissioned in 1968.
View of Eastwind, taken from launch dispatched from the Northwind
Disko Island, Greenland
Initially it was assigned to the fleet in charge of resupplying the allied bases in Greenland, and was one of the two icebreakers that participated in World War II. After the end of the war, the Eastwind returned to his supplying tasks on the US Arctic stations serving several military and scientific programs.
During one of those trips in 1952, the ship served as platform to launch several smalls stratospheric balloons under the scientific guidance of the famous scientist James Van Allen, then working at the University of Iowa in a joint project with the Navy to launch small research rockets from balloons in the stratosphere. + (more on stratocat.com)
rt: Completely restored poster of the USCGC EASTWIND available for purchase on Coast Guard Cool Stuff
more on the Eastwind Association
USS Callao (IX-205) – unclassified miscellaneous vessel built in 1943 and 1944 by P. Smit, Jr. Shipyard, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as Externsteine for the Kriegsmarine; originally named for the unusual Externsteine rock formation investigated by Heinrich Himmler for evidence of cultural significance to early Teutonic folklore and history.
Employed as a weather observation ship off Shannon Island on the northeast coast of Greenland to aid forecasting of storm events tactically significant to North Atlantic and European combat operations, but was captured on the night of 15 October – 16 October, 1944 by USCGC Eastwind.
At the time, it was the northernmost combat operation ever undertaken by United States forces. Decommissioned on 10 May 1950, and sold 30 September 1950. +
GMC Webster USCG, christens the German armed trawler KMS Externsteine as the Coast Guard ship USCGC Eastbreeze, while the trawler was stuck in the ice off Greenland after being captured by the Coast Guard in October 1944 +
Beginning in 1938, long before the end of the Second World War, the Nazi’s commenced to send out numerous exploratory missions to the Queen Maud region of Antarctica. Over 230,000 square miles of the frozen continent were mapped from the air, and the Germans discovered vast regions that were surprisingly free of ice.
A German Polar researcher reveals that the historical beginnings of German interest and research into the Antarctic or South Polar region itself began in 1873 when Sir Eduard Dallman, on behalf of the newly founded German Society of Polar Research, discovered new Antarctic routes with his ship GROENLAND, the first steamship to see the Antarctic.
Within the next 60 years 2 further expeditions took place, one in 1910 under Wilhelm Filchner with his ship DEUTSCHLAND; and again in 1925 with the specialy designed polar expedition ship, the METEOR.
Hitler was anxious for a foothold in the Antarctic, and during the years before WWII the Germans claimed hegemony over parts of Antarctica and the wish to possess [their] own base grew stronger.
Command over a strike attack was given to the polar-experienced Captain Alfred Ritscher, who had already led some expeditions to the North Pole and had proven himself courageous and skillful in critical situations. The selected ship was the MS SCHWABENLAND, a German aircraft carrier in use since 1934 for transatlantic mail delivery.
New Swabia and The German Antarctic Expedition
USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83) – 290-foot (88 m) vessel specifically designed for ice breaking duties on the Great Lakes. She now serves as a museum ship known as Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in Mackinaw City, Michigan.
Built specially for the Great Lakes, her design was based on the Wind-class of Coast Guard icebreakers, but she was built wider and longer than the other Wind class vessels so that her draft would be shallower. Laid down on 20 March 1943 at American Ship Building & Drydock Company in Toledo, Ohio; launched (sideways) on 4 March, 1944 and decommissioned 10 June, 2006. Replaced by USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30).
Mighty Mackinaw (1024 x 682)
In February 1942, the United States government announced plans to spend an estimated $8 million to build a state-of-the-art icebreaker that was capable of operating in heavy ice. Such a vessel was essential because a longer shipping season was needed to help vessels move vital raw materials on the Great Lakes during World War II.
At the start of the conflict, all available cutters had been called to wartime duty leaving the Great Lakes with no available breakers. +
USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83)
(1024 x 809)
USCGC Glacier (1017 x 827)
USS Glacier (AGB-4) – First a US Navy, then USCG icebreaker which served in the first through fifteenth Operation Deep Freeze expeditions. Launched on 27 August 1954 at Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was in US Navy service for 11 years, and USCG service for 21.
Glacier was essentially an improved Wind class icebreaker, larger and more powerful. Capable of breaking ice up to 20 feet (6.1 m) thick, and of continuous breaking of 4-foot (1.2 m) thick ice at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph).
Glacier’s shakedown cruise and maiden voyage were combined in Operation Deep Freeze I, as flagship for RADM Richard E. Byrd USN, Ret. Breaking through the Ross Ice Pack in December 1955, she carved out an ice harbor in Kainan Bay to allow the discharge of cargo from vessels at the site for Little America V.
She then continued 400 nautical miles (740 km; 460 mi) west to break ice into an off-loading site to establish the U.S. Naval Air Facility at McMurdo Sound. Glacier then surveyed Vincennes Bay in Wilkes Land and made the first landing in history on the Princess Martha and Princess Astrid coasts. Glacier returned to Boston, her home port, on 6 May 1956.
Glacier was first icebreaker to make her way through the frozen Bellingshausen Sea, and most of the topography in the area is named for her crewmembers.
Belgian Antarctic expedition ship Polarhaf had been hemmed in by the ice for over a month and a half and had drifted over 150 miles. After several days of ramming and pounding the six to fifteen foot ice-pack off Breid Bay, Antarctica, Glacier managed to free her. (1384 x 1207)
Following 29 Antarctic and 10 Arctic deployments, Glacier was decommissioned in 1987. On 16 February 2012, she was sold for $146,726 to be broken up by ESCO Marine in Brownsville, Texas. +
An icebreaker that became the flagship of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd during his famous Antarctic expedition is being prepared in Mare Island for her final voyage +
NavSource: USS Glacier (1955 – 1966)
Canadian Coast Guard CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent
3456 — 2304
One of 2 classed a Heavy Arctic Icebreaker and is the largest icebreaker and flagship of the Canadian Coast Guard. Built in 1969 by Canadian Vickers Limited in Montreal, Quebec. Based at CCG Base St. John’s in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The vessel’s current operation tempo consists of summer voyages to Canada’s Arctic where she supports the annual Arctic sealift to various coastal communities and carries out multi-disciplinary scientific expeditions. During the winter months, Louis S. St-Laurent sometimes operates in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to aid ships in transiting to Montreal, Quebec, although she usually only serves this assignment during particularly heavy ice years. +
USCGC Polar Sea (full)
Polar Sea uses four different methods of electronic navigation to overcome the difficulties of high-latitude operations. Operations in the remote, hazardous and unforgiving polar regions make it necessary for the crew of Polar Sea to be highly self-sufficient.
The crew consists of personnel trained in navigation, engineering, welding, machinery repair, electronics, boat handling, firefighting, damage control, diving, medicine, and nearly every other kind of special skill that could possibly be needed. There is a crew of 24 officers, 20 chief petty officers and 102 enlisted.
Polar Sea also serves as a scientific research platform with five laboratories, additional space for seven portable laboratories on deck and accommodations for up to 35 scientists. She also carries two HH-65 Dolphin helicopters during major deployments. They support scientific parties, do ice reconnaissance, cargo transfer, and search and rescue as required.
In nautical history, Polar Sea holds several notable records. It is one of only three ships that has ever completely transited the Arctic Ocean and circumnavigated North America.
Polar Sea has been out of service since 2010 due to engine failure. +
USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10); full size
USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) -Commissioned in 1976, homeported in Seattle and operate under the control of the USCG Pacific Area. Polar Star is able to ram her way through ice up to 21 feet (6 m) thick and steam continuously through 6 feet (1.8 m) of ice at 3 knots (6 km/h).
Since Polar Star and Polar Sea were designated primarily as research vessels, the National Science Foundation pays for and runs the United States’ ice breaking vessels, using Coast Guard crews; 15 officers and 126 enlisted. In 2009, the NSF announced that they would end funding for maintaining the Polar Star. Nicknames: Building 10. Polar Spare. Brand X. Wide Ass Government Building. Red Tubs of Fun +
The Polar Star was back in operation in late 2013, and assigned to Antarctic operations as part of Operation Deep Freeze in early 2014.She was dispatched on January 4 to attempt a rescue of the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese icebreaker MV Xue Long (MV Snow Dragon) trapped at that time in Antarctic ice, the former since December 24, 2013.
see also: U.S. Icebreaker Polar Star: Explaining the Ship in Antarctic Rescue on National Geographic
Antarctic rescue operations complete: Maritime Journal – Jan 8, 2014
Arcticaborg – icebreaking platform supply vessel operated by Wagenborg Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea. She and her sister ship, Antarcticaborg were built by STX Finland Oy in Helsinki, Finland, in 1998. They are the first icebreakers equipped with azipods.
British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13
Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions
British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13
Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions
NORTH POLE (Dec. 20, 2002) Coast Guard Cutter Healy
only the second US surface ship to reach the North Pole