National Geographic : 1959 Jul
"Stand By for Surfacing!" Tension Grips the Watch in the Maneuvering Room The power plant which propels Skate is a fur ther development and refinement of that in stalled in Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered vessel. Electrician's Mate 1/c E. L. Mauk. seated at right, adjusts the loads on the generators as the vessel rises toward a skylight. Lt. Richard J. Boyle stands behind him. be done "when the opportunity arose" that Lady Wilkins left the ashes with Rear Adm. Frederick B. Warder, Commander of Atlantic Submarines, in New London. I had not discussed the matter with my crew en route to the Arctic-partly because I wasn't sure we could surface at the Pole. It would be a poor ceremony if held submerged. But now it began to appear as though our chances of bringing the Skate up at the Pole were at least worth discussion. I told the crew of our assignment, using the ship's an nouncing system. All respected and admired Sir Hubert. The task of surfacing the next day at the Pole took on more immediate meaning. Skate Surfaces Squarely at the Pole By 10:54 Greenwich time on March 17, the Skate had returned to the North Pole. But we were hundreds of feet below the surface and might as well have been cruising in the friendly waters of the Caribbean for all we could see. The surface was the thing. We commenced our search at slow speed, looking with every means at our disposal for the thin ice which would give us our oppor tunity. But everywhere ice of 10 feet or more created a black ceiling for our icy world. No skylight. Hours went by. Of course the ice cover at the Pole-as in almost all parts of the Arctic Ocean-is on the move. As we remained near the Pole, this ponderous canopy was slowly changing. We determined to stick to our task. As the afternoon wore on, Lt. Al Kelln found a small skylight worth examining. As we hovered under it, looking through the periscope, the faint emerald green of a long narrow crack-a lead, not a polynya-ap peared. It was not very big, but worth a try. Again and again we patiently maneuvered Skate into position, only to find that as we neared the ice, the lead had drifted away. Finally, about 4:30, our sail crunched into the ice where we wanted it. We watched the TV with anxious eyes: it showed us going through! 36 The ice was heavier here than we had broken before, but we were breaking it. Climbing eagerly to the bridge, I saw a sight different from those of the two previous days. The sun was still just below the horizon, and a very heavy overcast made for late twi light darkness. But the major difference was the wind. It was roaring around us at about 30 knots, blowing the snow until one could see no more than a quarter of a mile. We were on the edge of a narrow, winding lead that disappeared into the hazy distance.