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Daily Archives: 26. October 2016 − News & Stories


North pole expe­di­ti­on of French Ark­ti­ka ter­mi­na­ted in Duvefjord

A French north pole expe­di­ti­on was ter­mi­na­ted by the Sys­sel­man­nen in Duvefjord on Nord­aus­t­land. The adven­tu­r­ers Gil­les and Ale­xia Elka­im had plan­ned a voya­ge simi­lar to that of Fri­dt­jof Nan­sen and his ship Fram in 1893-96 with their sai­ling boat Ark­ti­ka. Their plan was to sail into the Nor­the­ast Pas­sa­ge and to let the boat free­ze in the ice near the New Sibe­ri­an Islands to then drift with the ice across the Arc­tic Oce­an. A sledge jour­ney to the pole its­elf was part of the plan of the expe­di­ti­on, which was sche­du­led to last for seve­ral years.

Now the expe­di­ti­on has come to a pre­ma­tu­re end in Spits­ber­gen. Bad wea­ther, ice and engi­ne pro­blems had forced the Ark­ti­ka to return to Nord­aus­t­land, after they had left alre­a­dy Kvi­tøya, hea­ding fur­ther east. The ship was brought into Duvefjord on the north coast of Nord­aus­t­land to seek shel­ter from the wea­ther. Accor­ding to the expedition’s own blog, the situa­ti­on was dif­fi­cult at times due to the wea­ther. Due to the late sea­son and the need for fur­ther repairs, it was then deci­ded to win­ter in Duvefjord.

Per­mis­si­on for a win­tering had, howe­ver, not been obtai­ned and such per­mis­si­ons are not issued on a short war­ning. Cap­tain Elka­im appli­ed for per­mis­si­on from the Sys­sel­man­nen on Octo­ber 08. The result was a heli­c­op­ter visit with offi­ci­als who con­fis­ca­ted crew pass­ports and papers. During the fol­lo­wing days the Ark­ti­ka was towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Aut­ho­ri­ties sta­te tech­ni­cal and legal reasons for this. The expe­di­ti­on mem­bers, howe­ver, wri­te on their Face­book site that the situa­ti­on in Duvefjord had been under con­trol, that the­re was no neces­si­ty for being towed and that the strong winds made this ope­ra­ti­on actual­ly rather dan­ge­rous. On the other hand, they thank the crew on Polar­sys­sel for their fri­end­ly and pro­fes­sio­nal hand­ling of the situa­ti­on. At the same time, Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties are accu­sed, among­st others for cruel­ty to ani­mals becau­se the 7 expe­di­ti­on dogs have not been allo­wed on shore in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for 10 days, alt­hough the local vet has repor­ted good health and vac­ci­na­ti­ons as nee­ded. The expe­di­ti­on claims to have appli­ed for per­mis­si­on to take dogs to Sval­bard alre­a­dy in July wit­hout get­ting a rep­ly from the aut­ho­ri­ties.

The legal situa­ti­on and fol­low-up may keep lawy­ers on both sides busy for a while. Mean­while, the expe­di­ti­on has come to an ear­ly and unin­ten­ded end, be it preli­mi­na­ry or final.

The French boat Ark­ti­ka does not have any­thing to do with the boats Arc­ti­ca I and Arc­ti­ca II from Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The French expe­di­ti­on boat Ark­ti­ka in Advent­fjord, after towing by Polar­sys­sel. Image © Bjørn Fran­zen.

Arktika in Adventfjord

Sources: Web­sei­te and Face­book­sei­te of the Ark­ti­ka-Expe­di­ti­on, The Inde­pen­dent Barents Obser­ver.

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