Libraries > Digital Exhibits > Under the North Pole > Afterwards
Ellsworth and Wilkins, ca. 1930s.
regarding the sinking of the Nautilus. Wilkins OV-16.
Wilkins had intended to return the
Nautilus to the U.S. shipping board, but the condition of the vessel
made that impossible. Permission was given to sink the submarine off the
coast of Norway, and on November 30, 1931, the Nautilus was towed
four miles from Bergen and scuttled in 1138 feet of water. Although it did
not achieve its goal of submerging at the North Pole, it did prove that a
submarine could travel under the Arctic ice.
After returning from the Nautilus
expedition, Wilkins went on to partner with Lincoln Ellsworth once again,
and served as second in command of the Lincoln Ellsworth Antarctic Flight
expeditions, traveling to Antarctica four times in the 1930s. In 1937, he
spent seven months as the leader of the Alaskan-Canadian section of the
search for the lost Soviet Polar Expedition, commanded by Sigimund
Eventually, Wilkins was hired as a
consultant for the U.S. military and worked in this capacity until his
death in 1958. He never gave up on the idea of submersible polar
research. The Wilkins collection has documentation of plans for a second
submarine expedition, although it never actually occurred.
On March 17, 1959, the nuclear
submarine USS Skate surfaced at the North Pole and scattered Sir George
Hubert Wilkins’ ashes over the Arctic Ice.
Ellsworth and Wilkins, front, with pilot Bernt Balchen on
board the Polar Star, built for Ellsworth by the Northrup
Corporation, ca. 1930s.
Wilkins never gave up on the idea of submarine travel in
the polar regions. Here, he is on board the nuclear submarine Skate
with commander James Calvert, October 18, 1958. Wilkins died shortly
after thereafter, on December 1, 1958 at the age of 70. Wilkins 35-8-1.
Ellsworth's ship, Wyatt Earp, icebound on its voyage
to Antarctica, ca. 1930s.
USS Skate surfacing at the
North Pole, March 17,
Crew of the USS Skate during the memorial
ceremony for Wilkins on March 17, 1959.
Wilkins' ashes were scattered over the