Introduction to the Nautilus Polar Expedition of 1931 Sir Hubert Wilkins, Commander History of the Nautilus Expedition The Nautilus submarine Arthur Blumberg, Chief Electrician The crew of the Nautilus Reaching the pole

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Chronology of Nautilus events

March 16, 1931The O-12 casts off after basic work is completed at Mathis Shipyard in Camden, NJ, however she is forced to take shelter at the Philadelphia Navy Yard because of a severe snowstorm.
March 18O-12 leaves he Navy Yard for the Texas Oil Company wharf at Marcus Hook to take on 28,000 gallons of fuel oil and 4,000 gallons of lubricating oil for the voyage.
March 24O-12 is christened the Nautilus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before a crowd of over 800 people. Since it is still during prohibition, a silver bucket full of cracked ice is used.
March 26Nautilus sails up the Hudson River to Yonkers, New York where the New York Engineering Company makes adjustments to the ice drill and other equipment.
April 25Nautilus makes her first test dive in the Hudson to check for leaks in the hull that might have resulted from the adjustments.
May 3Nautilus transfers to Poughkeepsie, NY to make her first fresh-water diving tests.
May 4Fresh water diving tests are completed after three hours.
May 10Nautilus arrives at the U.S. Navy's submarine base in New London, CT. to conduct test dives off Block Island in Long Island Sound (she reaches 90 feet).
June 3Nautilus departs for Provincetown, MA for her scheduled standardization run.
June 4Nautilus makes speed trials on the Navy's one-mile course. Departs Provincetown at 11:00 p.m. for England (two months behind schedule). She is accompanied by the USCGC Pontchartrain, an ice patrol cutter.
June 7At noon Nautilus reports being at 4150'N, 5954'W 550 nautical miles (NM) from Boston.
June 8Nautilus is 800 NM from Boston.
June 9The Pontchartrain parts company with the Nautilus.
June 10Nautilus reaches 4211'N, 4311'W, 1300 NM from Boston, at 8:00 p.m.
June 11The boat runs into heavy seas at 4420'N, 37W, 1600 NM from Boston; Captain Sloan Danenhower stops any further radio communications to save battery power.
June 13Starboard engine suffers a cracked cylinder, and the port engine has broken down under the strain of constant use. Under a raging storm, Nautilus is forced to batten down all hatches.
June 14A SOS is sent out by the crippled submarine; the battleship USS Wyoming responds to the distress call.
June 15The world receives the news that the Nautilus is being towed the 890 nautical miles to Queenstown, Ireland by the Wyoming.
June 18The weather worsens, as the bridge is washed away; quartermaster Edward Clark and engineer Raymond Drakio are thrown overboard. Hanging onto the submarine, they manage to crawl back on and down the conning tower hatch.
June 22The tug Morsecock takes over from the Wyoming and tows the Nautilus into Cork, Ireland.
June 26Nautilus is towed by the Morsecock to Devonport. En route the rudder jams and remains stuck for two hours.
June 27Nautilus arrives in Devonport to begin repairs.
July 11Necessary spare parts to repair the engine arrive from the United States.
July 15While still in dry-dock, Nautilus is visited unexpectedly by the Prince of Wales.
July 24Despite being declared in perfect condition, the air compressors are found not to be complete.
July 28The Nautilus is finally ready to leave the shipyard after completing submerging trials.
August 1Nautilus arrives at Bergen, Norway at 5:00 a.m., several hours ahead of schedule.
August 5After making additional repairs on the starboard engine, Nautilus departs for Tromsø, first refueling stop.
August 9The submarine reaches Tromsø without incident.
August 10With repairs and refueling completed, Nautilus leaves Tromsø at 5:15 p.m., travels seven miles before a problem with the fuel-injection valve forces her to halt. She drifts several hours overnight while repairs are made.
August 11Nautilus puts in to Skjervøy (60 NM from Tromsø) where repairs are made.
August 12At 7:00 a.m. Nautilus departs for Svalbard.
August 13Halfway to Svalbard Nautilus runs into a storm that carries away the light canvas bridge. She is still having problems with the fuel-injection valves, and at times was listing at a 57 angle. When the storm subsides, repairs are made to the engines.
August 15Nautilus arrives at Longyearbyen, on Adventfjorden, Spitsbergen where the submarine is overhauled, the engines are adjusted, and refueling is completed.
August 18At 3:00 p.m., the Nautilus departs, headed for the Arctic.
August 19The Nautilus first sights pack ice at 6:40 p.m., and move 20 NM inside.
August 21Sir Hubert's first attempt to submerge the Nautilus below the Arctic Ocean is prevented by jammed valve in the exhaust system.
August 22In the morning, the submarine is forced to move to open waters by a half gale. By 4:35 p.m. ideal conditions are found for the first dive. During preparations Captain Danenhower notices the diving rudder is missing, which is confirmed by diver Frank Crilley. This makes it impossible for the Nautilus to make standard dives. Despite this the decision is made to continue with the expedition.
August 26Calm seas and closely packed ice allow the crew to spend the morning near the ice edge taking photographs. The diving chamber is used for the first time to conduct experiments - taking the first core sample from the Arctic floor.
August 28Nautilus reaches its furthest point north, 8159'N.
August 29Fog prevents any further progress north.
August 31Nautilus is able to sail into the ice again. It is decided to try and force the submarine to submerge. This is accomplished by setting the forward trim to one third full; No. 1 ballast at full, No. 2 full of oil, No. 3 of oil and water. Auxiliary ballast full. The trim was set at 1 down by the bow. The trim was later given 2.5 by the bow, which allowed the boat to go under an ice floe three feet thick. When the attempt to use the ice drill failed, Nautilus backed out from beneath the floe.
September 4A second attempt to dive beneath the ice is made to record the event on film.
September 5The first iceberg is sited. William Randolph Hearst radios Wilkins to urge his return in the face of the rapidly advancing season.
September 6With increasingly bad weather which prevents further scientific work, Wilkins decides to end the expedition. He sends a radio message saying, "Our Arctic trip is over." The submarine begins to head south.
September 7Svalbard is sighted in the morning. The radio mast is carried away in a storm.
September 8Nautilus enters Isfjorden on a calm sunny morning. By 1:00 p.m. the submarine is alongside a pier at Longyearbyen. Wilkins leaves immediately for New York to determine the fate of the submarine from the U.S. Shipping Board. The scientists depart with their equipment on board the coal steamer Inger Elisabeth.
September 12Nautilus heads out in a storm, bound for Bergen.
September 15A heavy storm forces the submarine to seek refuge in the fishing village of Andøy. Repairs are made to the starboard engine, which broke down.
September 20After additional mechanical problems, and severe weather the Nautilus reaches Bergen at 2:00 a.m.
September 21The crew is paid off and dispersed.
September 29Permission is obtained from the U.S. Shipping Board to sink the Nautilus in international waters off Norway.
October 31Bad weather stops the first attempt to sink the submarine.
November 20Nautilus is sunk in Norwegian territorial waters a short distance from Bergen, in water 350 meters deep. A parade of ships accompanied the submarine as she was towed to the spot. Her flag was furled, the valve in the fore tank was opened, and the Nautilus filled with water and sank at noon.

Sources consulted