Topsail Schooner / 1 funnel, 3 masts /
L,B,D: 127.8' x 34' x 15'' - 39m x 11m x 4.8m / 402 tons / Hull: wooden /
Compliment: 16 / Engine: steam triple expansion 220 hp, 1 screw, 7kts /
Designed, Colin Archer. Built, Colin Archer, Larvik, Norway 1892
Also fitted with a windmill to power
"The Fram under sail"
In: "The South Pole", by Roald Amundsen
- made from two pieces of American elm fourteen inches square.
- Italian oak, grown to shape (the grain in the perfect alignment
for maximum strength) and obtained by Archer from the Norwegian navy
where they had been seasoning for nearly 30 years. Finished frames
were 20 inches wide.
and stern - Four feet of juniper-doweled oak.
- Carvel built, planking butted edge to edge to avoid the ice being
able to gain purchase. There were three layers on the closely spaced
frames, first three inch planks, then four inch planks and then an
outer layer of greenheart sheathing (greenheart is a very strong and
hull - the frames on the inside were covered with four
inch thick pitch pine fitted about 450 white pine knees. Knees are
taken from the point where a trees trunk sends out major roots, a
naturally very strong right angle.
straps were finally wrapped around the hull at the bow and stern
Rudder and Propeller
- these could be lifted into two wells inside the hull for
protection from the ice. The propeller was two bladed and designed
to stop vertically so that it was protected by the rudder post.
Losing a propeller bade was a common mishap in when working in ice.
The Fram was not a handsome ship when
completed, the ends were blunt and looked almost identical, the rounded bottom to help escape from
the ice did not make for graceful lines. All but 3 inches of the keel was
hidden which would make her performance in heavy seas poor. But she was
enormously strong, as Nansen put it
"I arrived at the result that the
strength must be several times that necessary to withstand the pressure
required to lift her."
Nansen instructed Archer to insulate the ships
living quarters with layers of insulation using - wood, felt,
linoleum, and reindeer hair.
The skylight to the saloon was triple glazed and
the passage from the deck down to the saloon passed through three
doors. Each door had a 12 inch sill to prevent the flow of cold air
and drifting snow when opened.
At no point did the Fram's interior have any
condensation, not even the cabins with an exterior wall.
Fate after the expeditions:
Fram is preserved in Oslo (formerly Christiana) at the Fram
Photo courtesy - Hans-Petter Fjeld
Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License
Otto Sverdrup, northwest Greenland, Arctic
Ocean expedition 1898-1902
Otto Sverdrup during his lifetime (1872
- 1928) was as famous an explorer as Nansen and Amundsen, though since
then, he has been overshadowed by his compatriots.
Norwegian Arctic Expedition (1898-1902) led by
Otto Sverdrup - center in light suit
Sverdrup had previously crossed the
Greenland icefield with Nansen in 1888, and like Nansen, this
journey had made his name in polar exploration circles. He had been the
commander of the Fram when Nansen and Johansen had left to strike
out for the North Pole in 1895 staying with the ship until she was
released at last (with help of some explosives) from the pack and returned
to Norway with her.
Two years after her return from being the
ship to have reached the furthest North and being also the only one ever
to purposefully freeze into drifting pack and then return intact
(incidentally, with a fit and healthy crew too, a rare occurrence for
Arctic expeditions at the time), the Fram set out again on an
expedition led by Otto Sverdrup.
The expedition was financed by Nansen's
chief patron's Axel Heiberg and the Ringnes bothers, wealthy brewers. They
had originally asked Nansen to lead the expedition, but by now Nansen felt
he had had sufficient of Arctic exploration and the hardships involved and
suggested that the offer to lead was made to Sverdrup.
He was fortunate in that he was allowed a
free hand in where to explore and so chose the unknown coast of Northern
Greenland. He was also at liberty to change his objectives should it
become prudent or advantageous to do so.
On the 24th of June 1898, the Fram reconditioned
by her builders set off on her second expedition of polar discovery.
The Fram was to sail through the
passage between the west coast of Greenland and Ellesmere Island. But as
was often the case, heavy ice was against the ship and she was unable to
make headway as it was too thick for her. The only predictable thing
about Arctic pack is it's unpredictability. One year it may be possible to
sail easily for tens or hundreds of miles, while the next year in the same
area, virtually no progress at all may be made.
Instead of being able to reach further
north, the Fram anchored for four years in various fjords around
Ellesmere Island acting as a base for exploratory sledging trips into the
unexplored west and north. Attempts by the ship each spring at making
passage northwards were constantly halted by pack conditions. There was
plenty of "white spaces" here for Sverdrup and the other sixteen
crew members to profitably explore however.
Though less obviously impressive than the
achievements of Nansen and Amundsen in the Fram, this journey
accomplished a great deal. The expedition members sledged a total of some
18,000 kilometres, 700 nights were spent under canvas and a 200,000 square
kilometre island group was surveyed - greater than the combined
discoveries of numerous previous expeditions. These islands known as the
Sverdrup Islands were annexed for Norway, though later became part of
Canada, retaining the Norwegian names they had been given. Considerable
scientific measurements and findings were made during this time too which
added greatly to the knowledge at the time.
Amundsen, South Pole attempt, 1910-1912
The Fram was brought out of retirement in 1910 by
Roald Amundsen who wanted to emulate Nansen's attempt to drift over the
pole in his 1893-1896 expedition. He wanted to put the ship in the ice
once again in the Bering Sea and drift over the pole. Before the Fram
even left Norway however, news arrived that the north pole had already
been attained by the American Robert Peary on the 6th of April 1909.
Amundsen changed his plans, but did not announce them to
the crew until the Fram reached Madeira. Up to this point they were
all under the impression that they would head north again for the Arctic.
Also surprised by the change was Robert Scott and the British expedition
that didn't find out about Amundsen's change of plan until the Norwegian's
had actually arrived in Antarctica.
This was in an era where explorers often informed each
other of their plans and would stay away from a particular area if they
knew there was another party there who would be considered to have
"prior claim". It was not considered "gentlemanly" to
compete directly or race. Unknown regions were a sort of arena where
explorers would do their best and then triumph or retreat to allow others
the space for their efforts.
The Fram arrived in the Ross Sea area of
Antarctica in January 1911. Amundsen established a winter station which he
called Framheim, the attempt on the pole was to be made in the following
spring by Amundsen himself and four companions.
The story of Scott
and Amundsen's south pole journeys
are recounted elsewhere on this site.
While the polar party had left, the crew explored the
Antarctic Ocean somewhat in the Fram. In particular they made an attempt
to sail as far south as possible, reaching 78°41'S and in the process
becoming the ship that had sailed the furthest north and also the furthest
south. The Fram had in all sailed some 54,000 nautical miles or the
equivalent of two and a half times around the equator.
The Fram arrived home in Norway in 1914 and was left for
some time as the First World War took over in people's minds. By 1916 a
committee had been established and began to work for the repair and
preservation of the ship. Otto Sverdrup was particularly active in this
and by 1935 the "Fram
Museum" was been opened where the ship is preserved today.
Historical photographs on this page by
permission of National Library of Australia