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 Fram Museum

Gjøa was the first vessel to transit the Northwest Passage. With a crew of six, Roald Amundsen traversed the passage in a three year journey, finishing in 1906. The Gjøa is displayed at the Fram Museum in Bygdøy.

The 70 by 20 ft (21.3 by 6.1 meters) square-sterned sloop of 45 net register tonnage was built by Knut Johannesson Skaale in Rosendal, in 1872, the same year Amundsen was born. She was named Gjøa after her then owner´s wife. For the next 28 years the vessel served as a herring fishing boat.

In 1900, Amundsen bought her from Asbjørn Sexe of Ullensvang, for his forthcoming expedition to the Arctic Ocean. Gjøa was much smaller than vessels used by other Arctic expeditions, but Amundsen intended to live off the limited resources of the land and sea through which he was to travel, and reasoned that the land could sustain only a tiny crew (this had been the cause of the catastrophic failure of John Franklin´s expedition fifty years previously). Her shallow draught would help her traverse the shoals of the Arctic straits. Perhaps most importantly, the aging ship was all that Amundsen (who was financing his expedition largely by spending his inheritance) could afford.

Amundsen had little experience of Arctic sailing, and so decided to undertake a training expedition before braving the Arctic ice. He engaged Hans Christian Johannsen, her previous owner, and a small crew, and sailed from Tromsø in April 1901. The next five months were spent sealing on the pack ice of the Barents Sea. Following their return to Tromsø in September, Amundsen set about remedying the deficiencies in Gjøa that the trip had exposed. He had a 13 horsepower single-screw marine paraffin motor installed (she had hitherto been propelled only by sail, and had proved to be sluggish). Much of the winter was spent upgrading her ice sheathing; Amundsen knew she would spend several winters iced-in.

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