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Ellsworth and Wilkins, ca. 1930s.
Wilkins 33-9-39.

Radiogram 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 Levanevsky.   

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 33-8-2.

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.
Wilkins 33-10-26.

USS Skate
surfacing at the
North Pole, March 17, 1959.
Wilkins 35-5-1.

Crew of the USS Skate during the memorial
ceremony for Wilkins on March 17, 1959. 
Wilkins' ashes were scattered over the Arctic ice.
Wilkins 35-5-4.

Idea | Purpose | Crew | Submarine | Journey | Arctic Dive | Hero or Fool | Afterwards

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