December 1970 Number 647 pages 12 & 13

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Cruising deep in the ice covered Arctic Ocean on 5 Aug, 1970, the nuclear submarine USS Queenfish (SSN 651) reached the North Pole..
  The ship then came to the surface only 500 yards from the Geographic North Pole.
is the seventh U.S. Navy submarine to venture under the frozen wasteland and reach the pole. Her captain is Commander Alfred S. McLaren, USN.
  Shortly after surfacing at the pole he, said, "Our accuracy in finding the exact North Pole was due to our modern navigation system and a great crew."
  CDR McLaren has made two previous polar cruises and did a thesis on the Arctic for his masterís degree from George Washington University.
  "One important part of our voyage was to follow carefully the track made by USS Nautilus on her famous first voyage 12 years ago," CDR McLaren said.
  Scientists will be able to find changes which have taken place in
the ice profile by comparing data from

the two voyages. "On Queenfish, we recorded oceanographic data such as sea and ice temperatures, location of ice formations, and soundings from the floor of the Arctic Basin," the captain explained.
  "Besides gaining valuable knowledge about the Arctic Ocean, our voyage further proves the practicality of submarine operations there," CDR McLaren said, "adding to our defense of the North American Continent."

ummer Weather conditions produce breaks in the ice cover, forming small lakes. These openings are called Polynyas. Nuclear submarines are able to travel freely under the ice for long periods. They do, however, come to the surface often in these Polynyas.
  This is done in a controlled vertical motion, and it is sometimes necessary to break through the ice near the surface. During the weeks that Queenfish traveled under the ice pack, she surfaced 24 times

12 All Hands


Facing page: USS Queenfish (SSN 651) rests in the Arctic sea at the North Pole. The ship surfaced 24 times in the ice during the weeks of her 1970 polar exploration. Left: Scuba divers from the crew of Queenfish swim for 15 minutes in the Arctic Ocean to research the underside of the ice. Above left: SSN 651 was the seventh U.S. nuclear submarine to voyage under the Arctic ice to the North Pole. Above: Divers drift from the the deck of USS Queenfish in preparation for their dive under the ice.

Above LCDR Toby G. Warson explains the view he saw under the Arctic ice, He said there were no visible signs of life in the 27 degree water, Bottom left: Sitting on top of the world, the sub retraced the track of the famous first voyage of Nautilus in 1958. Queenflsh reached the North Pole on 5 Aug 1970. Above right: Chief Quartermaster Jack Patterson, dressed as Santa, greets crewmen of SSN 651 at the North Pole.

 The ship left her home port in Hawaii on 6 July 197O. Following a visit in Seattle she and her 110-man crew were North Pole-bound.

  After the trip the ship made a three-day port call in Nome, Alaska. The townspeople welcomed the Navymen and their unusual "underwater ship."
  One old-timer stopped to talk with a crewman on the sidewalk. He asked, "How cold was it, and how did you keep warm inside that thing?" The crewman answered, not too cold in the Summer~only about 30 degrees."
  He continued "The water was about 27, but inside the ship the temperature never went below 70. You see, besides temperature control, we have equipment which scrubs out the Carbon Dioxide and adds Oxygen taken from seawater. A completely controlled atmosphere.
  The old-timer shook his head slowly back and forth and said, "What a way to explore!"

   On one surfacing a family of three polar bears was
sighted, and on another, scuba divers from the crew of the ship went down to observe and photograph the underside of the ice near the surface.
  Santa was on hand at the North Pole (Chief Quartermaster Jack Patterson) for the ceremonies which consisted of reenlistments and the awarding of Dolphins for newly qualified submariners to wear on the trip home.
  Queenfish is the third Pacific Fleet submarine ever to voyage to the North Pole. She was the first one to do so in eight years.

December 1970 13
*Reprinted, with permission, from; ALL HANDS, published monthly by the Bureau of Naval Personal. All issues are available at;

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