Maud was built specifically for Amundsen’s expedition to drift across the Arctic Ocean. When the expedition ended, the ship was sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company and saw a few years’ use in Canadian Arctic waters. It then lay for nearly 90 years as a wreck in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, before being transported back to Norway in 2018.

Maud is launched on June 7, 1917, at Christian Jensen’s shipyard in Vollen, Asker. Photo: Follo museum, MiA.

Maud was built at Christian Jensen’s yard in Vollen, Asker. Jensen said that Amundsen’s reaction to seeing the first contours and sketches was to declare, “This vessel will be the best polar ship in the world.” Maud would be constructed on the same principles as the polar ship Fram, but be both shorter and broader, and considerably lighter. Jensen’s original estimate for the job was around 300,000 Kroner.

The keel was laid in July 1916 and Maud was launched a year later, on June 7, 1917. But material and labour costs had now more than doubled, partly because suitable timber had to be ordered from the Netherlands, so Maud’s final construction cost reached around 650,000 Kroner. On top of this came costs for equipment, crew and provisions.

With Queen Maud’s consent, Amundsen christened the ship with a block of ice: “It is not my intention to scorn the noble grape, but even now you should get a little taste of your proper element. For the ice you are built, and in the ice you will spend your best years, and there you will do your work. With our queen’s permission, I christen you Maud.” 📜

Blueprints of the polar ship Maud

Amundsen was allowed to reuse on Maud some of Fram‘s materials and equipment, including the rudder, anchor winch, propeller and masts. Both rudder and propeller could be raised to protect them from ice damage, as had been the case on Fram.

Amundsen thought that a crew of eight men was the minimum required to handle the ship, so around Maud’s saloon lay ten one-man cabins, each identically furnished at the basic level, with desk, washbasin and single bunk. There was a galley, of course, and also a laboratory. Amundsen describes the interior in his book about the expedition:

“On the walls hung photographs. Linoleum was laid on the floor, and coir runners over this. Around the saloon lay the 10 cabins, one for each man. From the expedition’s side, these were equipped with a desk, a bunk with linen, linoleum with carpet on top, and curtains for the windows and doors. […] Friends had equipped my cabin, and so nicely and beautifully was it done that I blushed and lowered my eyes the first time I went in there. You would have thought I was going on honeymoon.” 📜

When the expedition had to end for lack of money in 1925, the ship was bought by Hudson’s Bay Company in a forced sale for 40,000 dollars. They renamed it Baymaud and used it to supply several of their northern outposts 📜. In the summer of 1927, Baymaud was brought into Cambridge Bay, Canada, where it served for several years as a floating workshop, warehouse and radio station. In 1930, according to radio operator W.G. Crisp, “a leak developed at the Baymaud’s propeller shaft which could not be repaired without docking. She sank at her moorings and became a complete wreck.” 📜 Through the 1930s, the decline of Baymaud continued.

It is perhaps a sad irony that Maud’s working life should end here, for Cambridge Bay lies at the western end of Queen Maud Gulf, a stretch of water separating Victoria Island from mainland Canada and named by Amundsen himself for the Queen of Norway in 1905, during the first ever transit of the Northwest Passage in the Gjøa.

Baymaud photographed at the quay in Vancouver, probably during a refit in 1926. Photo: City of Vancouver Archives.

In 1990, Asker municipality bought the Baymaud from Hudson’s Bay Company for one dollar, with a plan to transport the wreck back to Norway. Neither this, nor plans to bring the wreck to Tromsø, met with any success, and some advocated leaving the wreck in Cambridge Bay, but in 2011 the project “Maud Returns Home” began its work to salvage the ship and return it to Norway. The wreck was lifted in 2016 and towed the following summer to Greenland to spend the winter there. Finally, in August of 2018, came the symbolic moment when the wreck of the Maud was towed into Bunnefjord to lie briefly off Amundsen’s home, Uranienborg, before continuing to its temporary residence at Tofte in Oslo Fjord.

Maud liggende utenfor Amundsens hjem for første og siste gang, 19. august 2018. Foto: Follo museum, MiA
Maud lying off Amundsen’s home for the first and probably last time, August 19, 2018. Photo: Eirik L. Bjerklund.

The Oslofjord Museum, MiA is located in Vollen in Asker and has several resources and collections related to Maud.

Read Christian Jensen’s description of the building of Maud (in Norwegian).

Follow the “Maud Returns Home” project.

Related resources

Roald Amundsen born July 16
Starts at Otto Andersen’s School
Jens Engebreth Amundsen dies
1887 – 1889
Polar interest aroused
Starting university
Gustava Amundsen (née. Sahlqvist) dies
Mountain ski tour with Urdahl and Holst
Hunting in Arctic waters with the Magdalena
Ship’s Officer’s exam
Hardangervidda with Leon
1897 – 1899
Belgica expedition
Cycling from Christiania to Paris
Studying geomagnetism in Hamburg
1903 – 1906
Gjøa expedition
Polar bears as draft animals
Amundsen buys Uranienborg
The North Pole reached?
1910 – 1912
Fram expedition
Amundsen becomes a pilot
1916 – 1917
The polar ship Maud is being built
Maud expedition
1918 – 1925
1918-25 Maud expedition. Maud
Nita and Camilla move in
Uranienborg for sale
Amundsen goes bankrupt
To 88 degrees north
Norge expedition
Lecture tour in Japan
Latham flight
1934 – 1935
Uranienborg becomes a museum
Betty’s house burns down
A chest full of photographs is discovered
Roald Amundsen’s home goes digital