USS Skate at the North Pole – Truth and Fantasy Fiction

Tony Heller (AKA “Steve Goddard”) is regurgitating submarine balderdash for the umpteenth time.

Under the headline “No Change In Arctic Sea Ice Over The Past 60 Years” Tony asserts:

Sixty years ago this week, the USS Skate surfaced at the North Pole. Arctic sea ice was two meters thick.

using these images as “evidence”:

SkateSeadragon

Skate-19580811

Please note that according to the July 1959 issue of National Geographic magazine:

The winter sun still hid below the horizon last March 17 when USS Skate crunched up through the ice at 90° N – first ship in history ever to surface at the Pole.

uss-skate-pole-19590327

Note also that when USS Skate surfaced at the North Pole on March 17th 1959 she was alone. There was no polynya to be seen, let alone a second submarine in one.

What do you suppose the odds are that Tony’s “No Change In Arctic Sea Ice Over The Past 60 Years” assertion is equally aberrant?

 

[Edit – August 18th]

A reader on Twitter, apparently a fan of Mr. Heller asks:

Of course there is! According to Commander James Calvert in the May 1959 edition of LIFE magazine:

On March 17 we arrived in the vicinity of the geographic North Pole. We had a job we very much wanted to do here, but as we cruised back and forth in the darkness below the Pole it seemed doubtful that we would be able to perform the last service requested by Sir Hubert Wilkins. No frozen leads or polynyas appeared. For a time I thought it would be necessary to conduct the service while submerged and discharge the ashes from one of the torpedo tubes as we passed under the pole.

Then suddenly we spotted the faint light of a small lead and we started up. This was our toughest surfacing so far. The quarters were cramped and we had to take special care not to hit Skate’s delicate rudder against the walls of ice. It took us two hours of careful maneuvering before Skate’s sail buckled the ice at the precise top of the world.

Climbing to the bridge I was greeted by an awesome sight. Skate was in a small lead completely surrounded by 10-foot-high hummocks of ice. This was the most inhospitable terrain we had seen so far.

Q.E.D?

9 thoughts on “USS Skate at the North Pole – Truth and Fantasy Fiction

  1. all year he has been posting the DMI volume and DMI thickness charts as evidence ‘nothing is happening’ and ‘volume higher than in years’. Both look WAY out compared to other measures to me????

  2. Work on your history. The March voyage of the Skate was her second, deliberately chosen to surface under the ‘worst’ conditions, to see if it could be done. The earlier voyage, in August, was timed for maximum opportunity for success. When the article above says ‘the first to surface’, it refers to the Skate itself, not this incident. For contemporary detail see this link:
    http://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=41751

    1. I’m familiar with the history Taylor. At the risk of repeating myself, with added emphasis:

      Please note that according to the July 1959 issue of National Geographic magazine:

      The winter sun still hid below the horizon last March 17 when USS Skate crunched up through the ice at 90° N – first ship in history ever to surface at the Pole.

      It’s referring to “the scattering of Wilkins’ ashes” incident. Skate didn’t surface “at 90° N” in August 1958, when according to Commander Calvert:

      Seldom had the ice seemed so heavy and so thick as it did in the immediate vicinity of the pole. For days we had searched in vain for a suitable opening to surface in.

      1. Yes Jim I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had to put people straight about this. The photo of the Skate on the surface on the polynya is probably when they surfaced at Ice Station Alpha the previous March.
        When describing his view on emerging on the bridge when the Skate broke through the ice in March Calvert wrote: “The Skate was the first ship in history to be on the surface at the geographic North Pole.”

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