National Geographic : 1965 Nov
Simply because there is so much still to learn about this fourth largest ocean, across which lie the shortest air routes between the Soviet Union and North America. As the late H. H. (Hap) Arnold, Commanding General of our Army Air Forces during World War II, once said: "If World War III should come, its stra tegic center will be the North Pole" (see Top of the World, a new Atlas Supplement Map distributed with this issue). Still, there is far more than the military consideration. Famed Arctic explorer and aerial pioneer Bernt Balchen, the first man to pilot a plane over both Poles, has written in his book Come North With Me: "In Roman times the Mediterranean Sea was considered the center of the world; but our new Mediter ranean is the Arctic Ocean, and the North Pole is the crossroads of tomorrow's travel." To my mind the most dramatic possibilities of man's use of this new middle sea have been created by the under-ice, underwater transits of our Navy's nuclear-powered submarines. Not only have the exploits of Nautilus, Skate, Sargo, and Seadragon been important mili tarily, they have stirred up serious discussion of submarine commerce-undersea freighters and tankers propelled by nuclear energy, 674 plying the Arctic Ocean. When this day comes, as many as 7,000 miles will have been clipped from the distance now traveled by surface ships between Europe and Asia.* Barrow: the Jumping-off Point Most exciting to us here in Alaska, sub marine Arctic tankers may be the answer to marketing the petroleum wealth of our Arctic Slope-that vast portion of our state which lies north of the Brooks Range and borders the Arctic Ocean for more than 1,000 miles. For these reasons, and many others, we must gain a competence in the Arctic Ocean, no less than in space, and to do so will re quire research. A filming assignment for the University of Alaska-I have made my home in Anchorage since 1960-gave me my first opportunity to set foot on Arlis II in February of 1962. In the late spring of 1963 I was back again for mem orable weeks on Arlis II and on its sister sta tion, T-3, or Fletcher's Ice Island.t *Nautilus skipper Comdr. William R. Anderson dis cussed "The Arctic as a Sea Route of the Future" in the January, 1959, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. tSee "Three Months on an Arctic Ice Island," by Lt. Col. Joseph O. Fletcher, USAF, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, April, 1953.