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HMCS Karluk

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Karkuk whaler.jpg
Karluk, leaving harbour during her career as a whaler
History
Canada
NameKarluk
BuilderMatthew Turner's shipyard, Benicia, California
Launched1884
Acquired(by Canadian government) 1913
Out of service1912
FateCrushed by pack ice in the Arctic Ocean, January 1914
NotesUS registry New York (1913 prior to Canadian service), San Francisco
General characteristics
TypeBrigantine
Tonnage
Length125.6 ft (38.3 m)
Beam27 ft (8.2 m)
Draught16.5 ft (5.0 m)
Depth14.2 ft (4.3 m)
Decks2
Ice classsheathed
Installed power175 ihp (130 kW)
PropulsionCoal fired steam and sail
Sail planbrigantine
Speed10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
NotesCanadian Registration

Karluk was an American-built brigantine which, after many years' service as a whaler, was acquired by the Canadian government in 1913 to act as flagship to the Canadian Arctic Expedition. While on her way to the expedition's rendezvous at Herschel Island, Karluk became trapped in the Arctic pack ice and, after drifting for several months, was crushed and sank in January 1914. Of the 25 aboard (crew and expedition staff), eleven died, either during the attempts to reach land by marching over the ice, or after arrival at the temporary refuge of Wrangel Island.

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Ship history

Karluk was built in 1884, at Matthew Turner's shipyard,[1][2] Benicia, California, as a tender for the Alaska salmon fishery industry (karluk is the Alutiiq word for "fish"). She was 129 ft (39 m) in length with a beam of 23 ft (7.0 m), and 321 gross register tonnage, 247 net register tonnage powered by sail and a 150 hp auxiliary coal-fired compound steam engine. In 1892 Karluk was converted for use as a whaler, when her bows and sides were sheathed with 2-inch (51 mm) Australian ironwood.[3][4][5] She completed 14 whaling trips, the last of which was in 1911.[6]

Whaling steamer Karluk docked in 1913
Whaling steamer Karluk docked in 1913

For her role in the Canadian Arctic Expedition, Karluk had been acquired by expedition leader Vilhjalmur Stefansson in 1913 for the bargain price of $10,000,[7] and sold at cost to the Canadian government when it assumed overall responsibility for the expedition.[8] Robert Bartlett, appointed Karluk's captain for the expedition, was concerned about the ship's fitness for the task, believing that she had not been built to withstand sustained ice pressure, and that she lacked the engine power to force a passage through the ice.[9] Even after refitting, the engine had a habit of breaking down. Karluk's chief engineer, John Munro, described it as a "coffee pot of an engine...never [i]ntended to run more than two days at a time."[10]

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Matthew Turner (shipbuilder)

Matthew Turner (shipbuilder)

Matthew Turner was an American sea captain, shipbuilder and designer. He constructed 228 vessels, of which 154 were built in the Matthew Turner shipyard in Benicia. He built more sailing vessels than any other single shipbuilder in America, and can be considered "the 'grandaddy' of big time wooden shipbuilding on the Pacific Coast."

Benicia, California

Benicia, California

Benicia is a waterside city in Solano County, California, located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. It served as the capital of California for nearly thirteen months from 1853 to 1854. The population was 26,997 at the 2010 United States Census. The city is located along the north bank of the Carquinez Strait. Benicia is just east of Vallejo and across the strait from Martinez. Steve Young, elected in November 2020, is the mayor.

Alaska salmon fishery

Alaska salmon fishery

The Alaska salmon fishery is a managed fishery that supports the annual harvest of five species of wild Pacific Salmon for commercial fishing, sport fishing, subsistence by Alaska Native communities, and personal use by local residents. The salmon harvest in Alaska is the largest in North America and represents about 80% of the total wild-caught catch, with harvests from Canada and the Pacific Northwest representing the remainder In 2017 over 200 million salmon were caught in Alaskan waters by commercial fishers, representing $750 million in exvessel value. Salmon fishing is a nearly ubiquitous activity across Alaska, however the most valuable salmon fisheries are in the Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound and Southeast regions.

Alutiiq language

Alutiiq language

The Alutiiq language is a close relative to the Central Alaskan Yup'ik language spoken in the western and southwestern Alaska, but is considered a distinct language. It has two major dialects:Koniag Alutiiq: spoken on the upper part of the Alaska Peninsula and on Kodiak Island; it was also spoken on Afognak Island before that was deserted by the people in the wake of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Chugach Alutiiq: spoken on the Kenai Peninsula and in Prince William Sound.

Gross register tonnage

Gross register tonnage

Gross register tonnage or gross registered tonnage, is a ship's total internal volume expressed in "register tons", each of which is equal to 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). Replaced by Gross Tonnage (GT), gross register tonnage uses the total permanently enclosed capacity of the vessel as its basis for volume. Typically this is used for dockage fees, canal transit fees, and similar purposes where it is appropriate to charge based on the size of the entire vessel. Internationally, GRT may be abbreviated as BRT for the German "Bruttoregistertonne".

Net register tonnage

Net register tonnage

Net register tonnage is a ship's cargo volume capacity expressed in "register tons", one of which equals to a volume of 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). It is calculated by subtracting non-revenue-earning spaces i.e. spaces not available for carrying cargo, for example engine rooms, fuel tanks and crew quarters, from the ship's gross register tonnage. Net tonnage is thus used in situations where a vessel's earning capacity is important, rather than its mere size. Net register tonnage is not a measure of the weight of the ship or its cargo, and should not be confused with terms such as deadweight tonnage or displacement.

Erythrophleum chlorostachys

Erythrophleum chlorostachys

Erythrophleum chlorostachys, commonly known as Cooktown ironwood, is a species of leguminous tree endemic to northern Australia.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Vilhjalmur Stefansson was an Arctic explorer and ethnologist. He was born in Manitoba, Canada.

Robert Bartlett (explorer)

Robert Bartlett (explorer)

Robert Abram Bartlett was a Newfoundland-born American Arctic explorer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Designation

Kurruluk, Keruk and children, four of the survivors of the SS Karluk Stefansson's Canadian Arctic Expedition
Kurruluk, Keruk and children, four of the survivors of the SS Karluk Stefansson's Canadian Arctic Expedition

Several designations have been applied to the ship after her acquisition by the Canadian government, including "HMCS" (His Majesty's Canadian Ship),[11] "DGS" (Dominion Government Ship),[12] and "CGS" (Canadian Government Ship).[13] It is not clear whether the "HMCS" designation was formal or informal; HMCS is used for Royal Canadian Navy ships. Although Karluk sailed under a civilian captain and crew, she flew the Canadian Blue Ensign, the jack of the Royal Canadian Navy.[14]

There is also a great deal to support the application of the "CGS" designation. Contemporary government documents refer to the ship as either CGS Karluk[15] or simply Karluk,[16] at the same time the government would clearly refer to the "HMCS" designation of HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow in similar official documents.[17] Furthermore, the other principal ship of the expedition, CGS Alaska carried the "CGS" designation. This designation was also carried by CGS Arctic.

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Royal Canadian Navy

Royal Canadian Navy

The Royal Canadian Navy is the naval force of Canada. The RCN is one of three environmental commands within the Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2021, the RCN operates 12 frigates, four attack submarines, 12 coastal defence vessels, eight patrol class training vessels, two offshore patrol vessels, and several auxiliary vessels. The RCN consists of 8,570 Regular Force and 4,111 Primary Reserve sailors, supported by 3,800 civilians. Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee is the current commander of the Royal Canadian Navy and chief of the Naval Staff.

Jack (flag)

Jack (flag)

A jack is a flag flown from a short jackstaff at the bow (front) of a vessel, while the ensign is flown on the stern (rear). Jacks on bowsprits or foremasts appeared in the 17th century. A country may have different jacks for different purposes, especially when the naval jack is forbidden to other vessels. The United Kingdom has an official civil jack; the Netherlands has several unofficial ones. In some countries, ships of other government institutions may fly the naval jack, e.g. the ships of the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the case of the US jack. Certain organs of the UK's government have their own departmental jacks. Commercial or pleasure craft may fly the flag of an administrative division or municipality at the bow. Merchant ships may fly a house flag. Yachts may fly a club burgee or officer's flag or the owner's private signal at the bow. Practice may be regulated by law, custom, or personal judgment.

HMCS Rainbow (1891)

HMCS Rainbow (1891)

HMCS Rainbow was an Apollo-class protected cruiser built for Great Britain's Royal Navy as HMS Rainbow entering service in 1892. Rainbow saw time in Asian waters before being placed in reserve in 1909. In 1910 the cruiser was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy for service on the west coast. At the outbreak of the First World War, Rainbow was the only major Canadian or British warship on the western coast of North America. Due to age, the cruiser was taken out of service in 1917 and sold for scrap in 1920 and broken up.

CGS Alaska

CGS Alaska

CGS Alaska was a Canadian Government Ship, employed on a survey of Canada's Arctic, in the early 20th century. She was a schooner, built in Alaska, in 1912, and acquired by the Canadian Government, which employed her as part of a fleet of 6 small exploration ships from 1913–1918. She was the only ship that lasted the entire expedition. She was sold in 1918.

Last voyage

Karluk sailed from Nome, Alaska on 13 July 1913, heading for Herschel Island where she was to meet up with the expedition's other vessels. On 13 August, still more than 200 miles (320 km) from her destination, she became trapped in the pack ice and began a slow drift, generally in a westerly direction away from Herschel Island.[18] On 19 September Stefansson and other members of the expedition staff left the ship for a ten-day hunting trip.[19] While they were gone the ice, carrying Karluk with it, began to drift more rapidly westward, so that Stefansson and his party were unable to return to the ship. They made their way overland to Cape Smythe, near Point Barrow.[20] Meanwhile Karluk continued drifting, under constant dangers from the pressures of the ice. On 10 January 1914 she was holed; she took on water steadily and sank the next day.[21] All 25 persons aboard – crew, expedition staff and Inuit hunters – transferred to the ice. After several weeks in a temporary ice camp they began efforts to reach the nearest land, Wrangel Island. An advance party of four lost their way on the march and were found dead on Herald Island years later.[22][23] Another party of four, including British explorer James Murray, detached themselves from the expedition and attempted to reach land independently; they were never seen again.[24][25] Of the 17 who reached the island, three died before rescue arrived in September 1914.[26]

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Last voyage of the Karluk

Last voyage of the Karluk

The last voyage of the Karluk, flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16, ended with the loss of the ship in the Arctic seas, and the subsequent deaths of nearly half her complement of 25. In August 1913, Karluk, a brigantine formerly used as a whaler, became trapped in the ice while sailing to a rendezvous point at Herschel Island. After a long drift across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, in January 1914 the ship was crushed and sunk. In the ensuing months, the crew and expedition staff struggled to survive, first on the ice and later on the shores of Wrangel Island. In all, eleven men died before rescue. The Canadian Arctic Expedition was organised under the leadership of Canadian anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and had both scientific and geographic purposes. Shortly after Karluk was trapped, Stefansson and a small party left the ship, stating that they intended to hunt for caribou. However, the ice carried Karluk westwards, far from the hunting party who found it impossible to return to the ship. Stefansson reached land and then devoted himself to the expedition's scientific objectives, leaving the crew and staff on board the ship under the charge of its captain, Robert Bartlett. After the sinking, Bartlett organised a march across the ice to Wrangel Island, 80 miles (130 km) away. Conditions were difficult and dangerous; two four-man parties were lost before the island was reached.

Nome, Alaska

Nome, Alaska

Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of Alaska, United States. The city is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. It had a population of 3,699 recorded in the 2020 census, up from 3,598 in 2010. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the most-populous city in Alaska. Nome lies within the region of the Bering Straits Native Corporation, which is headquartered in Nome.

Point Barrow

Point Barrow

Point Barrow or Nuvuk is a headland on the Arctic coast in the U.S. state of Alaska, 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Utqiaġvik. It is the northernmost point of all the territory of the United States, at 71°23′20″N 156°28′45″W, 1,122 nautical miles south of the North Pole. Point Barrow is an important geographical landmark, marking the limit between two marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea to the west and the Beaufort Sea to the east.

Inuit

Inuit

Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic and subarctic regions of Greenland, Labrador, Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska. Inuit languages are part of the Eskimo–Aleut languages, also known as Inuit-Yupik-Unangan, and also as Eskaleut. Inuit Sign Language is a critically endangered language isolate used in Nunavut.

Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island is an island of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia. It is the 91st largest island in the world and roughly the size of Crete. Located in the Arctic Ocean between the Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea, the island lies astride the 180th meridian. The International Date Line is therefore displaced eastwards at this latitude to avoid the island as well as the Chukchi Peninsula on the Russian mainland, to keep the island on the same day as the rest of Russia. The closest land to Wrangel Island is the tiny and rocky Herald Island located 60 kilometres to the east. Wrangel Island is the last known place where woolly mammoths survived, until around 4,000 years ago.

Herald Island (Arctic)

Herald Island (Arctic)

Herald Island is a small, isolated Russian island in the Chukchi Sea, 60 kilometres east of Waring Point, Wrangel Island. It rises in sheer cliffs, making it quite inaccessible, either by ship or by plane. The only bit of accessible shoreline is at its northwestern point, where the cliffs have crumbled into piles of loose rocks and gravel. Its area is 11.3 km2 and the maximum height above sea level is 364 m (1,194 ft). The island is unglaciated and uninhabited.

James Murray (biologist)

James Murray (biologist)

Dr James Murray FRSE was a biologist and explorer.

Source: "HMCS Karluk", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMCS_Karluk.

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References
  1. ^ "Mathew Turner Benicia's shipbuilder extraordinaire". Historical Articles of Solano County Online Database. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "Miramar Ship Index". Retrieved February 6, 2011. (registration required)
  3. ^ Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States (1913). Washington DC: US Department of the Treasury. 1913. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  4. ^ Bartlett p. 2
  5. ^ Appleton
  6. ^ "American Offshore Whaling Voyages: a database". Mystic Seaport (Lund, Judith N., Elizabeth A. Josephson, Randall R. Reeves and Tim D. Smith; National Maritime Digital Library http://www.nmdl.org). November 2, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2017. (search ship "Karluk")
  7. ^ Niven, pp. 8–9
  8. ^ Stefansson, p.x
  9. ^ Bartlett, p.2
  10. ^ Diubaldo p. 78
  11. ^ Niven, p. 1
  12. ^ McKinlay, p. 81
  13. ^ Appleton, Thomas. "A History of the Canadian Coast Guard and Marine Services". Canadian Coast Guard. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  14. ^ McKinlay, p. 68
  15. ^ Order In Council - Payment to SS HARMAN. Privy Council of Canada. LAC ID: 313764. February 23, 1915.
  16. ^ Order In Council - Payment to King and Winge. Privy Council of Canada. LAC ID: 313763. February 24, 1915.
  17. ^ Order In Council - Repairs to HMS Cornwall. Privy Council of Canada. LAC ID: 302401. October 6, 1911.
  18. ^ Niven, p. 49
  19. ^ Bartlett, pp. 34–38
  20. ^ Stefansson, pp. 58–68
  21. ^ McKinlay, pp. 64–65
  22. ^ McKinlay, pp. 72–76
  23. ^ Niven, pp. 1–3 and 368–70
  24. ^ Bartlett, pp. 128–29
  25. ^ Niven, pp. 163–65
  26. ^ McConnell, Burt (September 15, 1914). "Got Karluk's Men As Hope Was Dim" (PDF). The New York Times. New York. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
Sources

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