National Geographic : 1959 Jan
U. S. NAVY, OFFICIAL Seemingly wedged in the ice, Skate surfaces in an open lead behind a steep pressure ridge. Across the face of the ice pack, snow and ice pile up in endless stretches, reaching heights of 30 feet. Skate surfaced nine times to gather information about weather and ice; Nautilus, by comparison, remained submerged the full four days. This is not sea ice at all, in the classic sense, but coastal ice from Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada, ice that broke away in the late spring thaws and drifted out to sea. In shallow water it can cause trouble. But by winter it will have wasted away and been replaced by new, relatively thin sea ice. Point Barrow, Alaska, northernmost town in the United States, may one day grow beyond recognition as an important base for Pole bound submarines. Off the community lies the Barrow Submarine Canyon, a deepwater slot leading into the Arctic Basin from the Chukchi Sea. Nautilus ran that slot, and others will follow. Eyes for Hazards of the Deep One of the most touching letters I received after our pioneering trip came from a wounded British veteran. Totally blind, he commented: "I have some small idea of how your long trip in the unknown must have felt." Yet, though traveling beneath eternal ice, we by no means lacked eyes. Fine navigational aids saw many things, and commercial sub marines must be similarly equipped if they are to succeed. Our nuclear power plant has always per formed with steadfast efficiency. With such a plant as that on Nautilus, I am sure that my crew will volunteer to go anywhere. Many times have I said that no better ship than Nautilus ever sailed, and certainly no captain ever put to sea with finer officers or crew. The reception that the world gave news of Nautilus's feat proved overwhelming and humbling. Honors and messages from the great showered upon us. But the crew marveled most at the thousands of letters we received from private citizens of practically every country in the Free World. Some persons commented upon the obvious military significance of the voyage. Most, however, regarded it in a gentler and more perceptive manner: as a triumph of human ingenuity and human spirit, one in which men and women of all nations could take great pride. Perhaps, like myself, many thought of the voyage of Nautilus not as an end but as a beginning-a presage of the remarkable bene fits due mankind from the peaceful uses of atomic power.