AMUNDSEN GIVES ADVICE ON MOORING THE 'GJØA
(Roald, 1872-1928, Norwegian explorer, the first man to reach the South Pole)
Exceptional Autograph Letter Signed to Admiral H. W. Lyon
Commandant at the Navy Yard on Mare Island (MINSY) in California, acknowledging receipt of his "telegram and letter ... Many thanks. The Gjøa's draft is 8 feet and beam 20 feet. I notice what you say about the vessel settling on the bottom, it will not hurt her, and I am sure that you will select the best possible place for her. Mr Frank Smith will deliver the vessel after further conference with you ...", 1 side 8vo., Oakland, 26th October
The Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean. It is located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, California. It was a base for Arctic rescue missions.
Gjøa was the first vessel to travel through the Northwest Passage. With a crew of six, Roald Amundsen got through the passage in a three-year journey, finishing in 1906. They had arrived in Nome, Alaska on 31st August at the end of their successful voyage and the Gjøawas to be docked at the Naval Dockyard. She sailed on to earthquake ravaged San Francisco, where the expedition was met with a hero's welcome on October 19th. Rather than sail her round Cape Horn and back to Norway, Amundsen sold the ship to the city of San Francisco and it was dragged up the beach to the Northwest corner of Golden Gate Park and put on display. He returned to Norway by commercial ship.
Amundsen is recognised as the first person to reach both poles. He was lost in 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission for the airship Italia, when his plane disappeared.
Gjøa was damaged by souvenir seekers and became derelict. In 1940 a shamed city began repairs which ceased during WWII. In 1969 Norway expressed concern and outrage and began to seek the ship's repatriation. In 1972 the Gjøa returned home to Norway where it now occupies an honoured place in a museum.