By Shazia Anwer Cheema
The story of the “Fram Ship” is similar to a play about the life of a beautiful but unlucky lady—A story of obsessed, loved, left alone, and finally handed over to someone once the obsession and passion of the first lover faced away—-What a similarity with a Theatre of Tragedy.
Built in 1893 with a passion of Fridtjof Nansen for cruising the ice-slates of the Arctic and Antarctic, the Fram (“Forward”) ship is resting in the Fram Museum Oslo, Norway. The Museum that was built to showcase the Fram ship was inaugurated on May 20, 1936.
Fram had great voyages before resting and had been cruising in Arctic and Antarctic regions by the Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup, Oscar Wisting, and Roald Amundsen between 1893 and 1912.
Designed and built by the Scottish-Norwegian shipwright Colin Archer for the Arctic expedition of Fridtjof Nansen for the Arctic and Antarctic regions, Fram is a symbol of Norway’s heroic age of exploration.
Fram was the project of Nansen who wanted to reach the geographical North. He took Fram to the New Siberian Islands in the eastern Arctic Ocean. He abandoned his journey and left Fram in the middle of the ice after 18 months of voyage.
He was fortunate to find British explorers, the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition for coming back to Norway. Famous explorer of Norway and former partner of Nansen, Otto Sverdrup was assigned to rescue Fram from the ice. Otto Sverdrup successfully fought against ruthless weather and the frozen sea and managed to free Fram from frozen lands. During his attempt to save Fram and journey back home, Otto Sverdrup fell in love with Fram.
In 1898, Otto Sverdrup led a scientific expedition to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on Fram on 24 June 1898, with 17 men on board. Their aim was to chart the lands of the Arctic Islands and to sample the geology, flora, and fauna. The expeditions lasted till 1902, leading to charts covering 260,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi), more than any other Arctic expedition. Then Fram had a new lover— the legendary Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen.
In 1910, Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen got control of Fram and fixed a diesel engine into the ship for his journey to the south pole. He spent two years on this journey and he became the first team to the South Pole. He placed his flag at the South Pole on December 14, 1911.
After this expedition, Fram via Buenos Aires reached Norway in 1914 and was tied at Horten anchorage before moving to its last resting place—The Fram Museum. The Museum is situated in an area with several other museums including the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, the Viking Ship Museum, and the Norwegian Maritime Museum. I had already shared my visits to Kon-Tiki and Viking Museums in my previous travelogues.
This was not possible for me to leave Fram Museum without visiting before leaving Oslo because all three Museums— Kon-Tiki Museum, Viking Museum, and Fram were on my wish list. Let me share with you what happened to Fram after coming from his last journey of Buenos Aires in 1914. The Fram ship was left unattended at the shore of a small Norwegian Town Horten for years because she was now old and tired and might not be useful for further expeditions. However, a Committee was formed in 1925 to restore weather-beaten Fram and by 1930, Fram was restored to the condition it was in during the expedition to the islands to the northwest of Greenland. It took another six years she finally had a permanent home—-The Fram Museum.
The official data available at the Museum office indicates that 10 million-plus including this writer have visited The Fram to see her grandeur.
Let me take you inside of the Fram