FF Kronprins Haakon
More than ever before, gathering knowledge about the High North and the Arctic, especially in environmental and climate research, is important. The ship Kronprins Haakon is one of the world’s most advanced research vessels in its category. It set out on its first ordinary voyage in the winter of 2018. The ship is mainly used in the north, both in the Svalbard zone and in the northern Barents Sea. The ship has icebreaker properties and can travel in waters with up to 1 meter thick ice.
It is especially within research areas such as geology and biology that UiT The Arctic University of Norway uses Kronprins Haakon. One of the many research projects that uses the ship is the large national project «Arven etter Nansen» (The Nansen Legacy), which is led by UiT. The project aims at mapping the northern Barents Sea to build knowledge about the climate and ecosystems in the Arctic and contributing to a sustainable management of the area. Almost 300 days are planned on board Kronprins Haakon throughout the project.
The ship, with its research facilities, enable us to study and monitor the stocks of fish and plankton, or how environmental toxins affect ecosystems. The ship also makes it possible to study seabed sediments in polar areas to gain more knowledge about past ice ages and understand how climate change can affect us in the future.
The research vessels continue our search for new knowledge about the unknown. In our modern society, we look for answers in the ice, like Nansen and Amundsen did, but the methods are more advanced and the questions are bigger. The researchers at FF Kronprins Haakon look for answers and solutions to global climate change and what consequences these have for our living conditions and the planet’s ever-decreasing species diversity.
The ship is named after the Norwegian Crown Prince, Haakon Magnus, born in 1973 and the heir to the throne of Norway.
- 50% UiT Norway’s Arctic University
- 30% Norwegian Polar Institute (legal owner)
- 20% Institute of Marine Research (operation)
- Length: 100 meters
- Width: 21 meters
- Range: 15,000 nautical miles (i.e., round trip Tromsø — Cape Town)
- Endurance: 65 days at cruising speed.
- Accommodation for 55 people in 38 cabins. 40 passengers.
- 15 laboratories
- 3 container laboratories
- 4 cold storage rooms
- 2 freezer rooms for samples
- Auditorium with 50 seats
- Contact person at the BFE faculty, UiT: Johnny Johansen, Head of Vessels and Technical Services Unit.
Samuel Balto (1861 — 1921)
At a time when Sami and other indigenous peoples were taken to big cities to be displayed as exotic objects for the bourgeoisie to wonder at, Fridtjof Nansen did the opposite and brought two Sami men to more or less desolate areas. He invited them along, not to exhibit them, but to make use of their long experience with winter mountains and skiing. They were in fact recruited by Nansen to participate in what was to be the first documented crossing of Greenland.
One of these Sami men was named Samuel Johannesen Balto, and the year was 1888. The 27-year-old Balto was from Karasjok (Northern-Norway), where he had worked with reindeer herding, forestry and fishing.
The idea that it could be smart to take a Sami on a skiing expedition to Greenland, Nansen had learned from the Finnish-Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld. Nansen had great faith in the Sami skiing skills, and in the Norwegian edition of his book The First Crossing of Greenland he writes that he believes it was the Sami who first introduced skiing in Scandinavia.
According to plan, the expedition participants were to be set ashore on the east coast of Greenland, and then cross the island on skis. The expedition turned out to involve more than just skiing when the participants ended up on a 12-day involuntary voyage on an ice floe, to mention just one example of their hardships.
Balto is described by Nansen as talkative and lively, and his cheerful character proved to be a strength for the expedition. Keeping spirits high on board was very important for the motivation in the group. Under the iconic motto «West coast or death», the expedition participants traveled over 600 km before reaching Godthåb on the west coast of Greenland. The motto was not chosen at random, because they knew that no one would come looking for them on the east coast — they had no choice but to cross Greenland. In Godthåb, they learned that the last boat for the season had already left, and they therefore had to spend the winter with the locals. When the winter season was over, Balto traveled with the rest of the group to Kristiania — the city that became Oslo in 1925. By his standards, he there experienced lavish parties and events.
In his book Med Nansen over Grønlandsisen i 1988: min reise fra Sameland til Grønland [With Nansen across the Greenland Ice Cap in 1888: My Journey from Sápmi to Greenland], he writes: «Safe and sound back home I recounted everything I had seen and heard, and described the big parties where we had dined with elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen. The Sami who listened to me would not quite believe what they heard.» (Our translation.)
In 1898, Balto traveled to Alaska to start reindeer farming. The reindeer were used to transport mail and goods from Nome to remote settlements of gold diggers. Later, he also worked as a gold digger himself, and he lived in Alaska until his death in 1921. His name would live on even after his death, through the dog Balto. The dog was named after Samuel Balto and was the lead sled dog on the final stretch of the so-called Serum Race in 1925, where dog teams were used to transport medicine to the diphtheria-stricken Nome. A statue of the dog Balto has been erected in Central Park in New York.
Balto got to travel to places and see things that few of his contemporaries could dream of, but interestingly, in his story he also highlights his many encounters with other people and the bonds of friendship that were formed on his journeys.
- Drivenes, E. A. og Jølle, H. D. (red.), Norsk Polarhistorie : 1 : Ekspedisjonene. Vol. 1. Oslo: Gyldendal, 2004.
- Balto, Samuel J., Med Nansen over Grønlandsisen i 1888 : Min Reise Fra Sameland Til Grønland. Tromsø: Universitetsforlaget, 1980. (www.nb.no)
- Dag og tid, 28.09.2012: 24–25 (polarhistorie.no)
Gennady Olonkin (1898-1960)
The radio operator Gennady Olonkin is a good example of the close connection between Norway and Russia. Of the sources we have found about his life and work, none are written or documented by himself, but there are interviews with him and characterizations of him in written works by others. It seems that Gennady was not one of those polar explorers with a great need for exposure.
Barely 21 years old, he signed on to Roald Amundsen’s «Maud» in 1918, from the Russian meteorological station at Khabarova in the Kara Sea. In the beginning, Gennady worked as an engineer until «Maud» was equipped with a radio connection. He was part of the expedition for seven years. Roald himself wrote about the sign-on in the book Nordostpassagen [The North East Passage]: «As Olonkin said goodbye, he said quite in passing, that if I needed him, he would like to join me.» (Amundsen, p. 58, our translation). Strictly speaking, Roald preferred his crew to be over the age of 30 for such an expedition, but Gennady had already convinced him that he was good enough.
Although Roald did not know Russian, he had no problems communicating with Gennady, who was half Norwegian. Olonkin was the son of the Pomor skipper Nikita V. Olonkin and the Norwegian born Eli (b. Haanshus). His parents lived in the area around Arkhangelsk and had eleven daughters and one son, Gennady.
According to the sources, Gennady found himself at ease with the other nine members of the crew on board «Maud», although it probably required a whole lot from all of them to live so close together day in and day out, year in and year out. In an interview from 1956, Gennady describes the expedition as much work and very little adventure. But they also had their small pleasures, like a gramophone: «Every Saturday night there was an hour of music. That was enough.» (Wale, our translation) You cannot have too much of a good thing on such a trip! Roald describes Gennady as their «chief conductor» (Amundsen, p. 107, our translation) in an enjoyable passage about the routines on board «Maud».
After the expedition with «Maud», Olonkin took part in flying the airship Norge to Ny-Ålesund. However, for political reasons, probably related to his nationality as a Russian, he was not allowed to take part in the aerial expedition attempting to cross the Arctic Ocean. The official explanation was that he had an earache. Instead, he got a temporary job as a radio operator at the Meteorological Institute for Northern Norway in Tromsø, and in the same year, in 1926, he became a Norwegian citizen. Later, he worked as a station manager at Jan Mayen for several periods, and, finally, in 1938 he was back at the Meteorological Institute in Tromsø as a radio operator. He worked there until his death in 1960.
Gennady is remembered as a skilled, versatile, straightforward and a bit of a quiet type. Or, to quote Bjørn Western, a colleague of Gennady (from his time at the Jan Mayen meteorological station): «I would especially like to mention Olonkin’s good character. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.»
- «Gennadij Olonkin» from www.polarhistorie.no www.polarhistorie.no
- Amundsen, Roald. Nordostpassagen. Gyldendal, 1921. www.nb.no
- Vervarslinga for Nord-Norge 25 år: festskrift utgitt i anledning av 25-års jubileet 1. februar 1945
- Wale, Thorbjørn. intervju med G.N. Olonkin, printed in several newspapers in 1956, in the Norwegian Polar Institute Library.
- Western, Bjørn. «Minner fra arktiske stasjoner». In: Været: populærvitenskapelig tidsskrift, 6 (1982) nr.3, pages 100-103
Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen (1873-1943)
Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen has left deep traces in Norwegian history. She was a pioneer in botanical research, despite the fact that she was not allowed to take her A-levels (which qualified for higher education) until 1902, when she was almost 30 years old. In 1910, Hanna submitted one of the very first Norwegian master’s theses in botany, based on her own fieldwork on Svalbard. She then became a research fellow and in 1921 she became the first Norwegian lecturer in plant geography. Hanna was also a key figure in the early nature conservation work in Norway.
Hanna was born in Vågå in Gudbrandsdalen, but the family (mother, father and big sister Thekla) moved to the capital, Kristiania (now Oslo), in 1878. As a twelve-year-old, she ended up in an accident which led to her being away from school for seven years. But she made a strong comeback!
Hanna showed a broad research interest in botany, especially mountain vegetation. She was the first Norwegian botanist to do major studies on Svalbard. Her first expedition there was in the summer of 1907, as a member of Prince Albert 1 of Monaco’s expedition to Spitsbergen. The following summer, Hanna was on her own — set ashore with a tent and necessary equipment — and was picked up again when it was time to move to another area on the west coast of Svalbard. There is no doubt that Hanna enjoyed the expedition: «When I now in the dark night lie in my little tent like a bird in its sheltered nest, while the north wind occasionally sends a little air through the tent over my face and the sound of the waves below drowns out any other sound, then I think with a little revulsion of our nauseating city, where the noise of the electric trams replaces the voices of wild nature and follows me into sleep.» (Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen in Sandberg, 99, our translation).
Maybe there was something about Svalbard’s lawless state (terra nullius) at this time, that gave a perhaps unexpectedly large scope of action for ambitious and strong-willed women? Hanna, the researcher, is indeed remembered for much more than her many books and publications. She was one of the first researchers to start using colour photography in the documentation of her work, which she did as early as in 1908. She also composed mnemonic verse that she used in her teaching.
Both her research and her strong commitment have influenced the nature conservation work in Norway. Her research is the basis for the protection of both flora, fauna and land areas on Svalbard. And she worked really hard to get a lasting protection of Lake Gjende and the Sjoa River (in Vågå). In The Norwegian Trekking Association’s yearbook from 1917 (and quoted on a memorial stone at Gjende) Hanna wrote «The extraordinary sight gave me a little fright — a fear that the long, spindly arm of industry should thrust itself into this parish and drain the emerald green waters of Lake Gjende.» (Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen in Sandberg, 104, our translation). The protection of Lake Gjende and Sjoa, and the establishment of national parks on Svalbard, however, did not come into place until 1973 — 30 years after Hanna’s death. The biographer Bredo Berntsen beleves that Hanna should have the main credit for Lake Gjende and Sjoa remaining untouched today. Her early and strong conservationist commitment was the reason why Berntsen gave Hanna, and the biography about her, the title «green stocking».
In his article about her, Finn-Egil Eckblad describes Hanna as «first and foremost a fiery soul, and a fiery soul who was particularly passionate about the nature conservation cause».
When the road west to the sea has been travelled,
We meet Flora dressed in her Atlantic attire
Of Ilex coloured silk, edged by ivy leaves
With rows of heather bells interwoven beautifully
The succisa’s blue buttons are more than just adornment;
And the belt is sewn with beautiful Daisies.
In this she has placed the fragrant Vivendel,
And digitalis is fastened to a yellow hat of primroses
From «De seks floraelementer» (Berntsen p.102-3, our translation)
- Berntsen, B. (2006). En grønnstrømpe og hennes samtid : Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen: botaniker, Svalbard-forsker, fjellelsker, fotograf og naturvernpioner. Oslo, Ossiania vitenskapsforl.
- Eckblad, F.-E. (1991). Thekla Resvoll og Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen, to glemte pionerer i norsk botanikk. Blyttia, 49 (1), 3-10. Available from: nhm2.uio.no [Lest 27.11.2019].
- Fuglei, E. and H. V. Goldman (2006). «Hanna Marie Resvoll‐Holmsen: a pioneer in Svalbard.» Polar Research 25(1): 1-13 polarresearch.net
- Resvoll-Holmsen, H. (1930). I tidens løp. Oslo: Some urn.nb.no
- Resvoll-Holmsen, H. (1927). Svalbards flora. Cappelen urn.nb.no
- Sandberg, S. (2012). Polarheltinner : Cecilie Skog, Liv Arnesen, Monica Kristensen, Christiane Ritter, Wanny Woldstad, Ellen Dorthea Nøis, Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen. Oslo, Gyldendal.
Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm
Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm (1866 — 1939)
As an expedition chef, Hammerfest man and Kven, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm, was the only one who took part in the large polar expeditions of both Fridthjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen and Otto Sverdrup in the years 1898-1912.
He made sure that the crew kept deficiency diseases at bay, but also that the spirits and morale onboard were high. He later became one of the most experienced polar explorers, with several seasons on board hunting vessels and as an expedition member. In addition to the expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole on board the «Fram» and «Gjøa», he traveled with Otto Sverdrup on rescue operations in the Kara Sea in 1914-5 after three Russian expeditions had failed. The famous expedition leaders learned to appreciate the good-natured chef, who worked hard to keep the crew motivated and healthy. Biographer Ekeberg describes him as follows: " Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm can play a clown with conviction, but he is in reality a social genius " (Ekeberg p. 11, our translation).
Adolf grew up in Hammerfest in a Kven family who settled in the city, not long before Adolf was born. He signed on to his first fishing boat as a fifteen-year-old, and soon turned out to be a capable worker. After working for several years on various boats along the Norwegian coast, he was commissioned in 1896 to cook on board the recently returned «Fram». This is how he became acquainted with the ship and with the owner Fridtjof Nansen and eventually persuaded Fridtjof to appoint him as a permanent chef onboard «Fram». Thus, Adolf became a polar chef. Adolf clearly appreciated his work; he was ashore in Norway for only 72 hours after the completion of the South Pole expedition before he set out again on the rescue operation in the Kara Sea in 1914.
There are no diaries or recipes written down by Adolf himself. The written material is limited to a small collection of letters. He is said to have been fond of reading, but not very good at writing (Ekeberg p. 7). Still, he was interested in and curious about the world around him, and on the various expeditions he often collected material for others to do research on.
His recipes were written down by others, and are often only partially complete, as Adolf probably protected the secrets behind some of his culinary specialties. His signature dish, Biff à la Lindstrøm, is perhaps his most famous recipe. There is some confusion concerning what type of dish this actually is, as there are different dishes with the same name.
Apparently, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm’s Beef à la Lindstrøm is a proper piece of steak, preferably polar bear meat, marinated in stout and then cooked.
It became a popular dish in various hotels and restaurants at the time.
Initially, the plan was for Adolf to join Roald Amundsen on the Maud Expedition to the Northeast Passage in 1918, but on the way on board he suffered a minor stroke and had to retire from life as a polar chef. Adolf bequeathed parts of his inheritance to the newly established Maritime Museum in Oslo in 1938 and died at Ullevål Hospital the following year.
- Ekeberg, J. O. (2017). Et liv i isen : polarkokken Adolf H. Lindstrøm. Oslo: Kolofon.
- Amundsen, R. (1908). Nordvestpassagen. Kristiania: Aschehoug. urn.nb.no