Every action when looked at from different perspectives could mean different things! Same can be said for this historical adventure in which a 37 year old Navy Captain and his crew of 116 became the first people ever to complete the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole.

Let’s start at the beginning! It was the period of Polar Exploration. Many countries and governments had sent their expert teams to the far off lands both North and South of the equator. While there were political agendas, scientific aspirations, and exploration possibilities, there were also the dreams of experiencing the ultimate adventure – being there where no man has set foot before!

On 4th October, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik – the first artificial Earth Satellite and as expected it brought in new military, scientific and political developments and aspirations. One part of those developments was the Operation Sunshine – a submarine transit of the North Pole, ordered by President Eisenhower in 1958.

Nautilus in the open waters Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Nautilus in the open waters
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

The mission started on 25th April, 1958, when USS Nautilus (SSN – 571), world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, commanded by Commander William R. Anderson headed towards the West Coast starting from New London, Connecticut. After stopping at San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle it left Seattle port on 9th June, 1958. An attempt to enter the open waters was made on 19th June, 1958 but it had to be pulled back due to drift ice in the shallow waters. Special Gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed just before the journey began.

  1. Land of the Bear – The name Arctic comes from the word ‘Arktikos’, which is Greek for ‘bear’. This is because the Great Bear constellation (Ursa Major) is seen in the northern sky. It is a polar region located in the northernmost part of the Earth.
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    Fish-eye lens view of sea ice off the coast of Spitsbergen (Svalbard Islands)
    Fish-eye lens view of sea ice off the coast of Spitsbergen (Svalbard Islands)      

  2. Midnight Sun – Most of the Arctic and the North Pole has almost six months of light each year, beginning around April. In the summer there is almost 24 hours of sunlight and it is exactly the opposite in the winter. The phenomenon is called Midnight Sun and occurs around the solstice (June 20-22). The number of days with a likely Midnight Sun increase the farther you go towards the pole. Similarly there are Polar nights in winters.
    Watch this fascinating short time lapse film shot in the month of June to give you an idea about how days look like in the Arctic in peak summers.

    Sun atop icebergs in Iceland

  3. Freezing Cold – Arctic’s climate is marked by cold summers and even colder winters. Eight countries extend into the Arctic: Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the USA (Alaska). The coldest temperature recorded in the Arctic is around -68°C in Siberia. Norilsk, Russia (located in the Arctic) is the most northern city in the world with an average temperature of 20 degrees below 0.
    Siberian Huskies
    Siberian Huskies