Sabotage in the Arctic: Fate of the Submarine Nautilus of 1931

Stewart Nelson, President, Pathfinder Group

Friday, April 17, 2009, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

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MP3 (31 MB)

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

Many considered it foolhardy, others a publicity stunt, but Australian adventurer Sir Hubert Wilkins was determined to be the first to use a submarine to cross the Arctic Ocean by way of the North Pole. When at the Pole, he planned to drill up through the ice and rendezvous with the German airship Graf Zeppelin. The decommissioned U.S. Navy World War I submarine 0-12 was leased and extensively modified for under-ice operation. Christened the Nautilus, it eventually reached the icepack but sabotage by some crew members forced a return to Bergen, Norway and there the submarine was scuttled in the fjord in 1,138 ft. of water in November 1931. In September 2005, Dr. Nelson used a manned submersible to re-discover and document the largely forgotten Nautilus of the Wilkins-Ellsworth Trans Arctic Submarine Expedition of 1931. As co-leader and scientific advisor for Project Nautilus 2005, Dr. Nelson will provide an illustrated presentation that recounts both Sir Hubert's 1931 expedition and his re-discovery of the historic Nautilus. This talk is timely as 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of both the death of Sir Hubert in Framingham, MA and the first submerged transit of the Arctic Ocean by way of the North Pole by the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine Nautilus (SSN 571) – the very thing that Sir Hubert attempted to do in his submarine Nautilus back in 1931.

About the Speaker

Dr. Stewart B. Nelson is an oceanographer, author, lecturer and historian. He has participated in a wide variety of projects in all the world's oceans. He has worked from ships, submarines, submersibles and commercial blimps. The former president of the American Oceanic Organization, Dr. Nelson continues to be involved in consulting work for both the maritime and cruise industry, as well as the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He has worked with such organizations as the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, Naval Oceanographic Office, National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere, National Alcohol Fuels Commission, and Mid-South Energy Project. His globe-spanning activities have taken him to more than 100 countries, as well as such waters as the Red Sea, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Black Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, South China Sea, Coral Sea and the Caribbean. Dr. Nelson has ventured into the frozen wastes of the Arctic and "walked twice around the world" on the ice-covered continent of Antarctica. A popular lecturer, he is widely published, including books, technical papers and popular articles. His recent activities include a 10-city lecture tour in Switzerland and co-leader/scientific advisor of an Explorers Club Flag Expedition that re-discovered the Nautilus, the world's first Arctic submarine, scuttled off Bergen, Norway in 1931. He holds degrees from The American University, University of Rhode Island, and a doctorate from the University of Southern California. Dr. Nelson has been an adjunct professor at George Mason University, a guest speaker at many corporate functions, and guest lecturer at numerous entities including Naval Postgraduate School, National Defense University, University of Alabama, University of Delaware, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Nelson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Congressional Fellow, Marine Technology Society Fellow and National Fellow of The Explorers Club. He is listed in American Men and Women in Science and Who's Who in Frontier Science and Technology.

Please note: Dr. Stewart's autographed book entitled "Sabotage in the Arctic: Fate to the Submarine Nautilus of 1931" will be available for purchase immediately following this seminar.