Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Nautilus 90 North


William Anderson, who made history in 1958 when he commanded the atomic submarine Nautilus under the polar ice cap to the North Pole and later served four terms as a U.S. congressman from Tennessee, has died. He was 85.

The Nautilus submerged under the Arctic ice pack off Point Barrow, Alaska, on Aug. 1. It crossed the North Pole at 11:15 p.m., Aug. 3, and ended its 1,830-mile journey under the polar ice pack when it emerged in the Greenland Sea on Aug. 5.

"Nautilus 90 North," Anderson's 1959 account of the submarine's historic voyage, which he wrote with Clay Blair Jr., became a bestseller.

I got that book as a present for my 14th birthday. I still have it.

As an aside, Nautilus developed a reactor coolant leak near Seattle. The crew scoured auto parts stores and rounded up every can of Bar's Leaks in the city, poured it in, and went under the ice. That took balls. Or normal sailor brains. They made history.

So long, Cap'n.

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