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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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