Oceanographer's Research Uncovers Little-Known Arctic Exploration

February 27, 2009

Oceanographer???s Research Uncovers Little-Known Arctic Exploration Tampa resident and scientist Stewart B. Nelson, Ph.D., presents "Sabotage in the Arctic: Fate of the Submarine Nautilus," at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 4, in Selby Auditorium.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Nelson has recovered the lost history of one of the world’s first Arctic explorers, Sir Hubert Wilkins. Wilkins was an early aviator and adventurer, the first to fly successfully over the Arctic Ocean, in 1928, from Alaska to Norway.

Then he turned his attention to the polar seas. Wilkins managed to find and launch a submarine. He had the ambitious goal of establishing a permanent weather station in the Arctic to help monitor global conditions -- in 1931 -- decades before the development nuclear-powered submarines, or our contemporary concerns with global warming and the loss of polar ice.

Wilkins, though visionary, “had no credentials academically at all,' Nelson relates, and encountered resistance from the scientific community. Funding problems, persistent mechanical difficulties, and clashes of egos followed. Still, a crew was assembled, the vessel was launched, and ultimately, lives were placed at risk.

The retelling of that sequence of events is dramatic enough, but Nelson is able to bring more to the presentation. His talk recounts his own underwater journey, in a modern, two-person submersible, to see and document the wreckage of ill-fated submarine, sunk off the coast of Norway.

Wednesday’s presentation is the latest event in the university’s Distinguished Speakers Series. After the talk, Nelson will sell and sign copies of his book, which bears the same title as his presentation.