National Geographic : 1970 Mar
Forbidding realm of ice and tundra, the North American Arctic and its fabled North west Passage have challenged mariners for centuries. Spurred by oil strikes on Alaska's North Slope in 1968, Humble Oil & Refining Com pany launched the daring Manhattan program. Its goal: to determine whether special ly built tankers could not only negotiate the passage but ply it year round as a floating pipeline to Eastern markets. To manage the $43,000,000 gamble, Humble chose Stan ley B. Haas (left, center), shown briefing expedition leaders in Manhattan's control center. Humpty Dumpty ship: To rush conversion of the giant Manhattan, largest U. S. mer chantman, Humble had her cut into pieces at Chester, Pennsylvania. Two sections were towed to other yards in Virginia and Ala bama. Welding torches flared around the clock to install extra rudder guards, fit the midsection with a heavy steel girdle, and give a forward section extra beam so that its widened path through ice would allow the stern "wiggle room." A Maine shipyard fashioned a new, rakish prow for the ship's unique "down-breaker" bow, designed to slide on ice and crush it with the ship's weight. Hundreds of electronic sen sors went into the hull to record strains and stresses for future study. Reassembled, the 150,000-ton ship set sail from Chester on August 24, 1969-the might iest, most formidable icebreaker afloat. S.S. Manhattan STERN SECTION 493 FEET MIDSHIP SECTION 264 FEET 3/4 IN. FORWARD SECTION 122FEET8 1/4 IN. 56 FEET6 IN. ARMORED PROW 69 FEET2 IN. GEOGRAPHICART DIVISION © NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY 378 EKTACHROME BYSAMC. PIERSON,JR.