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> 09-12-05: The Pole at Last!
post Sep 15 2005, 02:55 AM
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The Pole at last! USCGC Healy at the North Pole

"The Pole at last!!! The prize of 3 centuries, my dream and ambition for 23 years. Mine at last."Robert Edwin Peary, 1909

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(On March 1, 1909 PEARY and his entourage of 23 men, 133 dogs, and 19 sleds set off from Ellesmere Island for his third and final quest of the North Pole. By the time April 6, 1909, rolled around, only six men, Peary, Henson, and four Eskimos, Oatah, Egingwah, Seegloo, and Ookeah , were left to witness the planting of the American flag on the North Pole.)

On 9-12-05 at 9:00 am Alaska Time USCGC Healy and the Swedish Icebreaker Oden reached the North Pole. Captains Daniel Oliver and Tomas Arnell led this remarkable navigation across the Canada Basin, over the Alpha Ridge, across the Makarov Basin, and then over the Lomonosov Ridge into the Amundsen Basin. I like to thank ARCUS, VECO Polar Resources and NSF for sponsoring the Teachers & Researchers Exploring & Collaborating Program which made it possible for me and my students to be part of this historical transect of the Arctic Ocean, the first one for an United States icebreaker since 1994.

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Each of us had some way to mark the occasion. We gathered in the morning at Healy’s Bridge and watched the GPS screens showing our location, North Pole.

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Action at the Healy Bridge-Navigator Tim is looking for the North Pole

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Healy Crew with the Captain in the middle is getting ready for a group photo at the North Pole

USCGC Healy got parked against a stable ice floe and the gangway was lowered down. Ice liberty on the North Pole and everybody not on duty went on the ice to celebrate. A pole on the ice marked the point we declared to be the North Pole and Santa Claus showed up as well. Ice is constantly drifting and therefore it is difficult to stay at the Geographic North Pole for a longer time. The Swedish icebreaker Oden was parked half a mile away. Stable ice conditions allowed us to walk between the ships and visit each other. We had to climb some pressure ridges and fell into small melt ponds, the wind chill made for temperatures around - 15 C but walking on the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole accounted for a once in a lifetime experience.

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Ice Liberty at the North Pole

Following traditions, I had brought the Texas flag, the Hanna High School Eagle, the Brownsville Herald Education Road Runner, the UH cougar and the plush animals students gave me before the trip to take a photo at the North Pole. My students will get them back with a North Pole certificate. Vernier Software & Technology Company has sponsored physics equipment for Hanna High School and I was able to measure the acceleration due to gravity at the pole with a Vernier Lab Pro and a photo gate. We will use the data files in physics when I come back to study accelerated motion.

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When we left the North Pole international flags were left behind on the ice including my Texas Flag and a Hanna High School eagle. May they bring peace and understanding to all of us and God Speed in Education for our young people.

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Ute Kaden
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