It’s a milestone seven years in the making: 87 years since the Maud sank near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, the vessel is finally on its journey home.
Explorer Roald Amundsen’s ship sank in 1930 and sat in shallow coastal waters for decades, until Norwegian Jan Wanggaard and his team with the Maud Returns Home project got involved.
For years they worked to raise the Maud to the surface, as part of a repatriation effort to bring the well-preserved remains of the vessel back to Norway. On Tuesday, sitting atop a barge, it began its float home.
Wanggaard, the project manager, says it’s been a long time coming.
“I am overwhelmed by all the practicalities you have to deal with before we leave,” he said.
“Now we are in the middle of departing, and so of course it’s a milestone for the whole project so we are very happy.”
The Maud is heading east, back through the Northwest Passage, and will spend this winter in Greenland before going to its final destination in Norway.
The Maud, a wooden ship named for Queen Maud of Norway, was built for Amundsen. He was the first expedition leader to sail the Northwest Passage and the first person to reach the South Pole.
It launched in 1917 with the intent to reach the North Pole, but after several unsuccessful attempts, Amundsen was not able to pay his debts and the Maud was seized and sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company. It used the ship as a floating trading post for a few years before it eventually sank.
Four Norwegians used giant “balloons” to raise the wreck last summer, then slipped a barge under it and let it dry out over the winter.
Wanggaard has been hesitant to put a date on Maud’s arrival back in Norway, but said it would be great if it coincided with some significant anniversaries, like December 2018, 100 years since she sailed from Norway.