Arctic explorer's ship to return to Norway

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Photo: Galleri NOR
23:59 CET+01:00
Canada has authorized the repatriation to Norway of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's three-mast ship Maud from the Canadian Arctic, a project representative said on Friday.

The Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board revisited a December decision and granted an export permit for the ship, said Jan Wanggaard, manager of the effort to bring the Maud to Norway.

Residents of Cambridge Bay, Canada had opposed losing a treasured artifact that has become a tourist attraction in the far north.

Wanggaard hailed the "great news."

"We can now go ahead and make plans to prepare ourselves for the great challenge to finally bring Maud home," he told AFP.

In 1906, Amundsen became the first European to sail through the Northwest Passage searching for a shorter shipping route from Europe to Asia, something explorers had been trying to find for centuries.

Five years later, he became the first person to reach the South Pole. His attempts to reach the North Pole however failed.

Amundsen again sailed through the Northeast Passage with the Maud in 1918-20, but was unable to get far enough north to launch a North Pole expedition.

Amundsen tried, and failed, one more time from the Bering Strait in 1920-21.

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The Maud, built in Asker, Norway and named after Norway's Queen Maud, was sold to Hudson's Bay Company in 1925 and rechristened the Baymaud. It ended its days as a floating warehouse and the region's first radio station before sinking at its moorings in 1930.

In 1990, Asker Council in Norway bought the wreck for just $1 and obtained an export permit from Canada. The permit, however, had expired.

The Norwegian group hopes to return the shipwreck to Norway at mid-year to be the centerpiece of a new museum.

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