National Geographic : 1959 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine We had begun to develop trouble with part of our engine-room machinery; not the nuclear part, but still vital to the ship. Repair would be a major job, including lifting heavy weights and opening watertight connections. At 10:30 Dave Boyd's engineers started their repair work in the engine room. I went out on the ice to make my usual inspection of the ship and its surroundings. The estimated time for the repair was 15 hours; so we would be in this lead longer than in any this cruise. Our longest so far had been about 102 hours at No. 4, where the Scuba divers had worked. Crippled Ship Menaced by Groaning Ice About 11 p.m. Lt. Al Kelln, the officer of the deck, called me to the bridge. He pointed out ice movement along the edge of the lead. It made an occasional crack or groan. This was the first ice movement of any sort we had seen, and although it did not look serious, it was unwelcome. Once the repair work was started, it was necessary not only to stop but also to undo some of it before Skate could safely submerge. Even then submer gence was distinctly not desirable. Al and I watched the ice from the bridge anxiously. We called back all the crewmen walking on the ice and got them below. Home! The Ship Sails up the Thames River Toward New London Traveling in an engineering marvel, the submariners made a comfortable 36-day voyage, enjoying movies, hot showers, 22,400 cups of coffee, and 160 gallons of ice cream in the wintry North. On April 7, 1959, soon after this picture was taken from a helicopter, Skate pulled into her home berth, ending her Arctic voyage. "Could you draw up a little closer to the newsreel cameras?" a Navy official asked. "It's easier than parking in the ice." said the submarine's captain with a grin. Relatives carried placards reading "Welcome Home North Pole Sitters," and a band blared "I'm Sitting on Top of the World." There was no question now; the movement was becoming much worse. The hummocked ice to our portside was noticeably closer. The ice of the frozen lead surface was beginning to crawl up the sides of the ship in most alarming fashion. Most disturbing of all was the noise. The crashing, groaning, and shriek ing from the ice defied description. So loud was it that Al Kelln and I, standing two feet apart, had to shout to make each other hear. I went below, and the noise was nearly as audible there. It resembled the sound one might hear if one were inside a steel drum being dragged over gravel. I went briefly to the engine room, where the machinery was laid open. The men were work ing as quickly as they could, but this was a job to be measured in hours, not minutes. Back on the bridge, I could see that the ice movement was much worse. Heavy vibra tions could be felt through the ship, and we were taking a considerable list. All I had ever read about ships being caught and crushed in the ice flashed through my mind. I had talked to many Arctic-wise men about this very situation. Their advice had all boiled down to one sentence: When ice starts to move, don't stay around to argue with it. Now it was easier said than done.