The search for Roald Amundsen’s sea plane

Roald Amundsen. © N.A.M. Photo Archive

Roald Amundsen in 1925. Photo © N.A.M. Photo Archive

A large-scale expedition leaves the port of Tromsø on Aug 30 for the Barents Sea to search for polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s sea plane, named Latham 47.

Amundsen disappeared in the plane 80 years ago. The expedition will deploy high tech apparatus, seen as pivotal to the success of the mission, from a Royal Norwegian Navy Vessel and its supply vessel. Amundsen was on his way to rescue the Italian explorer Umberto Nobile when he and the plane disappeared.

Nobile had crashed an airship, the Italia, while returning from the North Pole. Eventually Nobile was rescued and died at the age of 93 in 1978. Two years earlier, Amundsen had flown with Nobile over the North Pole in an airship called the Norge, which was designed by the Italian.

Latham 47 in Bergen 1925. Photo © N.A.M. Archive

According to the web site promoting the expedition, the search equipment includes the Hugin 1000, a powerful deep-water scientific autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that is equipped with side scan sonar, multibeam echo sounder and a state of the art integrated inertial navigation system. With Hugin 1000, the Navy can program missions within the device, deploy it and the AUV then operates independently without any cables. The AUV is capable of high resolution seabed mapping – essential in the Amundsen expedition.

The ROV Scorpion 21 is highly manoeuvrable and operated by one person aboard the vessel. It is connected to the ship by a tether that carries electrical power, video and data signals back and forth between the operator and the vehicle. The ROV is equipped with four cameras and will be upgraded with a ultra modern HD-TV camera. Because it receives power from the ship, it can be in the water as long as necessary to find the plane.


For further information visit:

Click here to watch the video from the press conference, that took place on Feb. 23, 2009.

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