Introduction to the Nautilus Polar Expedition of 1931Sir Hubert Wilkins, CommanderHistory of the Nautilus ExpeditionThe Nautilus submarineArthur Blumberg, Chief ElectricianThe crew of the NautilusReaching the pole

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Arthur Blumberg, Chief Electrician

Arthur Blumberg with his gyroscope
Athur Blumberg with the gyroscope
By the time that the Nautilus got under weigh in 1931, Chief Petty Officer Frank Arthur O. Blumberg was a veteran of fifteen years service aboard U.S. Navy submarines. In order to participate on the subpolar expedition, the Navy granted him a year's leave of absence to serve as chief electrician. His participation is particularly significant in that he was the only crew member at the conclusion of the expedition, to give an interview to Modern Mechanics and Inventions. It was through his efforts that the photographs and scrapbook documenting the voyage of the Nautilus has survived.

Arthur Blumberg
Athur Blumberg
According to Blumberg, the Nautilus was "the frailest and most vulnerable craft" he had ever served on. Her engines broke down, the ventilation system did not work, and a small collision could have sent the entire crew to the bottom. To add to the pall, the crew was constantly sickened with ptomaine poisoning and dosed with lead from solder used in pipes carrying the sub's drinking water and in food tins. While some members of the crew later suspected the boat's misfortunes were the result of sabotage, at the time Blumberg attributed the problems to the sub's age and the inherent dangers of the arctic environment. For instance, where Wilkins's records that the diving rudders had been broken off, Blumberg states they were lost when they were lopped off by "a chunk of ice" at almost 80°ree; latitude.

Arthur Blumberg in uniform
Athur Blumberg in uniform
After the Nautilus expedition, Blumberg returned to regular duty in the Navy. He was sent to Washington, D.C. to help establish the Department of Marine Inspection and Navigation. From there the Navy sent him south to New Orleans, where to perform maritime inspection along the Gulf Coast. After retiring from the service Mr. Blumberg and his family returned home to Atlanta, Georgia, where he learned the lumber business and opened his own company, Southern Hardwood. Frank Blumberg died in 1960. His scrapbook from the expedition was donated to the American Philosophical Society Library in 1990 by members of his family. His grandson, Martin L. Levitt, is currently Librarian at the APS.

Sources consulted