“Maud” returns to Norway

The wreck of Maud near Cambridge Bay in Canada’s Nunavut province. The Maud was built to sail through the Northwest Passage, but the expedition did not go as planned. It sank in 1930, and is set to return to Norway in 2013. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The wreck of Maud near Cambridge Bay in Canada’s Nunavut province. The Maud was built to sail through the Northwest Passage, but the expedition did not go as planned. It sank in 1930, and is set to return to Norway in 2013. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Norwegian group cleared to bring home Roald Amundsen’s boat in 2013 from Canada

It’s been nearly 100 years since the polar expedition ship Maud set sail from Norway, and the ship is slated to return in 2013.

Named for Queen Maud of Norway, the ship Maud was built in 1916 for Roald Amundsen’s second expedition to the Arctic. It was intended to voyage through the Northwest Passage, but the expedition did not go as planned and took six years from 1918 to 1924. The Maud ended up in Nome, Alaska, and was sold in 1925 by Amundsen’s creditors in Seattle, Wash. The Hudson’s Bay Company purchased the ship to use as a supply vessel for the company’s outpost in Canada’s western Arctic, and renamed it the Baymaud. The ship was frozen in the ice in Cambridge Bay in Nunavut in 1926, and sank in 1930.

In 1990, the ship was sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Asker with the expectation it would return to Norway. Though the Cultural Properties Export permit was issued, the cost appeared to be prohibitively high at NOK 230 million (USD 43.2 million).

In 2011, investors at Tandberg Eiendom AS launched the project Maud Returns Home to bring the ship back to Norway and build a museum in Vollen. However, the Canadian government denied the group an export permit in December 2011, saying that they lacked “a full archeological survey.”

On March 16, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board reversed the decision, citing that though the Maud is of outstanding significance to Canada, moving the ship to Norway would not diminish the national heritage of the ship.

“That is great news for us, and we can now go ahead making plans and prepare ourself for the great challenge to finally bring Maud home,” said Jan Wanggaard, manager of Maud Returns Home. “It’s a great responsibility we now take on and we will work hard to make this project something everyone can be proud of at the end of the day, both in Canada and Norway.”

The organization Maud Returns Home wants to raise the Maud with balloons, drag the hulk to a barge and tow it from Nunavut back to Norway – a journey of over 4,300 miles.

Although it has become part of the seascape in Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, some residents of the tiny hamlet celebrated the news of her eventual departure. Others, however, had signed a petition declaring the wreck to be a Canadian archeological site that should not be moved.

Former mayor Syd Glawson said he wonders why the Norwegians didn’t come to the rescue of the ship 80 years ago.

“They have good intentions,” he said in a telephone interview. “But my belief – and I really believe this – is that when they try to move it, it’s going to fall apart and all they’re going to get is a pile of garbage. My concern is that when they discover this, they will just pack their bags and move on and leave everything where it is and leave the mess for Cambridge Bay.”

For more information, visit www.maudreturnshome.no.

This article originally appeared in the Mar. 23, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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