The Arctic Adventures of the <i>Thetis</i>


  • Dennis L. Noble
  • Truman R. Strobridge



Bear (Ship), Exploration, Greely, Adolphus Washington, 1844-1935, Hamlet, Harold G., Judicial systems, Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, 1881-1884, Proteus (Ship), Reindeer husbandry, Thetis (Ship), Starvation, Yantic (Ship), Arctic waters, Bering Strait


The Thetis, one of most famous Arctic ships was built as a whaler in Scotland in 1881, and served with distinction in the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard on many an Arctic voyage, before ending her days as a Canadian sealer in 1950. Her sixty-nine years of travels took her from the polar wastes of Greenland to the lush tropics of Hawaii, and from the barren tundra of Siberia back to the frigid waters of Newfoundland. ... The launching of the Thetis coincided with a flurry of international interest in the Arctic. On 3 March 1881, the United States contributed to it by mounting an expedition to Lady Franklin Bay on the northeastern coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its ostensible purpose was to participate in the International Polar Year, but its leader ... harboured secret longings to be the one to push the farthest north .... Both of these goals were realized, but mishaps plagued this American expedition. The worst of them, since it doomed the members to deprivation and eventual starvation, was the sinking of the relief ship, the steam whaler Proteus on 23 July 1883, and the sailing away of her escort, the U.S.S. Yantic, without caching any provisions. ...