Ottawa nixes export permit for Maud
Roald Amundsen's Maud likely to remain in Nunavut
A plan to tow the half-submerged wreck of a ship off the shore of Nunavut’s Cambridge Bay back to Norway has hit a wall.
Ottawa has turned down a request for a federal export permit for the Maud, once sailed by Norway’s Roald Amundsen, the first European adventurer to travel the Northwest Passage in 1906 and the first person to reach the South Pole, a feat he achieved in December 1911.
Amundsen sailed the Maud on an unsuccessful attempt to sail through the Northeast Passage, then drifted in the ice towards the North Pole.
But bringing the Maud back to Norway is all about the enduring hoopla that surrounds the country’s home-grown hero, Amundsen.
And that’s why group of Norwegian investors wanted to raise the Maud with balloons, drag the hulk over to a barge and then tow it from Nunavut back to Norway — a 7,000-kilometre journey.
There, the Maud would be exhibited at a futuristic museum in Asker, a suburb of Oslo — where anything to do with Amundsen remains a huge draw.
The reason for the refusal of the permit: a full archeological study must be first be conducted on the wreck — a condition that came as unexpected news to the manager of the project “Maud Returns Home.”
“The reason for the refusal is explained as lack of information concerning the extraction of the Baymaud. The Export Examiner states that the ship should not be recovered without adherence to accepted archaeological standards,” Jan Wanggaard said Dec. 15 — a day after Norway celebrated the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s arrival at the South Pole.
But the project’s proponents plan to appeal the decision to the Canada’s cultural property export review board, Wanggaard said.
The refusal came as a surprise because the Maud, now owned by the Norwegian group, Tandberg Eindom, wasn’t listed as an archeological site.
“This fact was part of our basis for our application, and we are therefore surprised that the Expert Examiner, despite this, considers the ship to be on this list and makes his conclusions, regarding the need for archaeological studies, based on this. At the time of our application being handed in, we were informed that Maud was not registered on this list,” Wanggaard said.
Not that he’s against an archeological study, but he said his 2011 survey of the Maud shows that would be “of marginal value.”
As well, Canadian officials never requested more information, he said.
“We think it is in both nations’, Canada and Norway, interest that we are given the opportunity to respond to any demands made from Canadian side, to finally receive an Export Permit,” Wanggaard stated. “In this way we can continue with full power our concrete plans for a salvage operation to be realized next summer, including whatever is needed to fullfil any given standards and plans for further documentation.”
Wanggaard also spoke to a local Norwegian newspaper about his frustration over the refusal of an export permit.
“Maud was not registered as a heritage site in Canada, and it is not today either. Canadian authorities should have informed us that they would regard it as such before we submitted the application,” he said on Budstikka.no.
But Wanggaard still sounded optimistic, saying the goal of raising the Maud next summer hasn’t changed.
Although Wanggaard gained converts for that project when he visited Cambridge Bay this past August, many in Cambridge Bay will be happy to learn that the Maud may stay where it is.
A group of Cambridge Bay residents has lobbied to keep the sunken hulk of the Maud — better known to them as the Baymaud, the name given to it by the Hudson’s Bay Co. — in the waters outside their community.
They formed a committee called “Keep the Baymaud in Canada” and circulated a petition that says the Baymaud, which sank near Cambridge Bay in 1930, is “an archaeological site that needs to be protected as she is where she is.”
The petition noted that the Baymaud also served as a supply vessel and a floating warehouse, then later as a wireless radio station, broadcasting from the Arctic to what is now the CBC.
“While we don’t deny the importance of the Maud to Norway, one also cannot deny the fact that she is a Canadian archaeological site that has been here since 1930 and should not be removed,” the petition reads.